James Keatings today revealed how taunts that he was “all left foot” led to his stunning winner against Falkirk, a victory which sent Hibs ten points clear at the top of the Championship.
The game was two minutes into added-on time when the striker cut in from the left and hit an unstoppable shot with his supposedly weaker right foot to clinch a 2-1 win which Bairns boss Peter Houston said all but guaranteed the Capital club the title.
Today, revealing even he was shocked to see his shot zip past Falkirk goalkeeper Robbie Thomson, Keatings said: “Every time I got the ball I was going to the bye-line and had two Falkirk players double up on me. I heard them saying ‘he’s all left foot’ and it stuck in my head.
“I don’t know who it was but they were saying I was all left foot so that made my mind up. The next time I got the ball I went on my right, caught it with my bad foot and it’s flown in.
“I couldn’t believe it – but I don’t think they could believe it either. I am just delighted for the manager and the team that we’ve taken the three points.”
Keatings admitted his goal, only his fifth of what, overall, has been a disappointing season for him, was as good and as important as he’s scored in his career, adding: “It reminded me of how I felt last season when I scored two goals against Falkirk in the play-offs but then I sat on the bench and watched them win the game.
“It’s a totally different feeling now, I’m buzzing. It was a massive result for us, coupled with other results. But you can’t take anything for granted in this league because points can be dropped anywhere.
“So we will remain focused for Wednesday night against Morton. It’s another massive game. They have been on a good run and are right up there. It’s up to us to up our performance again. Hopefully we can get three more points and build the gap between us and the rest.”
Keatings had found himself on the bench after turning in what he described as probably his worst performance in a Hibs shirt against Dumbarton seven days earlier but replaced Andrew Shinnie, who had suffered a shoulder injury just before half-time.
It was his free-kick which led to Efe Ambrose nodding Hibs into the lead but, revealed Keatings, he was culpable for Falkirk’s equaliser just two minutes later, Craig Sibbald heading home Fraser Aird’s corner.
He said: “I was kicking myself when they scored because Sibbald was my runner from the corner. I’d just set up the goal for Efe and I’d let a goal in at the other end. I said straight away after the game when I went in that it was my mistake at the corner.
“A few of the boys were having a go at Ross [goalkeeper Laidlaw] but I told them it wasn’t his fault – it was because I had lost Sibbald. It shouldn’t have happened. Luckily, I managed to redeem myself.”
Keatings held his hand up because he knew his error would be spotted. He said: “Would I have stayed silent if I hadn’t scored the winner? No, we’d have video analysis and there would have been no hiding place.
“I’m just delighted that we’ve got the three points in such an important game.”