After Hibs’ 1-1 draw with Falkirk on Sunday, Mark Atkinson looks at the key points after both sides dropped back in the title race.
Dylan McGeouch is bossing the midfield
Now back to full fitness, McGeouch is standing out like a sore thumb in the midfield. Man-of-the-match of the second week running, the busy 23-year-old was the catalyst for the majority of Hibs’ attacks, while also doing the dirty work, breaking up Falkirk’s forages forward. He’s fast becoming the Hibees’ best midfielder.
Liam Henderson made a telling impact
Henderson has come off the bench twice in recent weeks and both times sparked Hibs into life. He was far more direct and creative than James Keatings, the man he replaced, and the rest of the team fed off his energy. Surely the on-loan Celtic midfielder has made a case for a starting slot against St Mirren this weekend.
Fraser Fyvie is over his Ibrox hiccup
The Aberdonian had to sit out the past two matches after being hit with a ban for, in the words of the SFA, “committing an act of simulation and feigning that he had a blow to the face or head” against Rangers, but Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs brought him straight back into the team in place of Marvin Bartley. For the most part, Fyvie repaid his manager. He gave the ball away cheaply once in the first half, but apart from the that, he was as solid as a rock and linked defence and midfield too. A confidence-boosting performance from a player who had been a tad out-of-sorts beforehand.
Falkirk aren’t going to go away lightly
The Bairns weren’t especially good yesterday, but they did score a neatly crafted goal and defending valiantly. What is apparent is that they play for their manager Peter Houston, are well-drilled, exceedingly difficult to beat on the own turf and carry a creative spark in Blair Alston, Craig Sibbald, John Baird and Lee Miller. With Conor McGrandles back in on loan, they aren’t going to depart this title race in a hurry. Hibs, and Rangers, better get used to the Bairns nipping away until the bitter end.
Hibs need to hit their stride from the off
This is probably the most important takeaway from yesterday’s match. If truth be told, Hibs haven’t really found top gear for a while now, probably since they won 4-1 way back on November 7 at St Mirren. Results have come, but they’ve been churned out rather than crafted. Hibs probably need to hit their stride quicker. As was shown at Falkirk when they went a goal behind, when they move the ball slickly and concisely, they tear teams apart and create chances. Too often in the opening period of matches, the passing is ponderous and teams have time to get behind the ball and stifle. An increase in tempo is a must against St Mirren.