'He's just a joy to work with' - Jack Ross hails Hibs hero as Leith side earns right to turn full attention to cup final
Hibs boss Jack Ross thanked his players for relieving some of the pressure in the build up to the Scottish Cup final.
The proud Easter Road boss said that wrapping up third place in the Premiership with a game in hand will allow him to shuffle the squad against Celtic in this weekend’s final league encounter as priority shifts onto the task of beating St Johnstone at Hampden in nine days.
“That’s the added bonus from tonight,” he said after his men had secured a top-three finish for the first time in 16 years, with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph over nearest rivals Aberdeen. “The fact that Saturday now has no significance on the league position, we will use the squad appropriately.
“Everything now is about May 22 and being successful on that day. It makes my job a bit easier.”
At Pittodrie, Hibs did what they have done all season and absorbed everything their nearest rivals could throw at them before responding with their own telling blow to prove themselves the third best team in the country.
A solid defensive performance, from an unselfish frontline, through a dogged and defiant midfield to a backline that proved stubbornly impenetrable, Hibs’ efforts were epitomised by Martin Boyle tracking back in the dying seconds to usher the ball out of play. The team spirit shone through as his industry received a standing ovation from the Hibs bench.
And, Ross lauded Christian Doidge, the man who grabbed the decisive goal five minutes before the interval.
The Welsh forward, whose all-round play helped the team throughout the season, even when he wasn’t scoring, took his tally for this term to 13 goals and four assists, sending a well-executed strike past Gary Woods to secure all three points and ensure this Hibs side became the first in the club’s history to record 11 away wins in a league season.
“His goal return has been excellent, he’s so honest in his work rate,” said Ross.
“He’s just a joy to work with and tonight, because of what we put in emotionally on Saturday [in the semi-final], we had to conserve some energy and rely on quality from the forward players.”