HIBS boss Pat Fenlon reckons he has seen his players’ confidence soar recently – and it looks like the club’s supporters are finally beginning to see the fruits of their new-found belief out on the park.
For the first time this season the Easter Road side went ahead in a league game and, not only that, they held onto it, doubled it and claimed all three points at home for only the second time this calendar year.
While Fenlon insisted that too much has been made of their poor record on their home patch, he conceded that they do have to aim to pick up as many points as they can in Edinburgh this season if they are to force their way into the top half of the campaign.
There’s no doubt he still wants to see improvement and there were certainly signs of it against St Mirren.
James Collins, who opened his account for his new club just the week before in the win over St Johnstone, was back on the scoresheet early in the game, as was fellow new boy Paul Heffernan who added his name just after the break.
While Saints are going through a poor patch right now, Hibs created a number of chances and generally linked up well, with Scott Robertson, Liam Craig and Collins all causing the Paisley side real problems.
Hibs look like they are finally beginning to gel and Fenlon, for one, insisted that he always believed his side would come good.
He said of the 2-0 win over Danny Lennon’s men: “I am delighted. I thought that it was a real good performance in all parts of the game.
“Defensively, when we did have to be on our toes, we were very solid and offensively I thought that we created a lot of chances in the game and played some good football too.
“We kept the ball a lot better as well so I was very pleased.
“All footballers are the same. If you win some games, you gain momentum and confidence and it just breeds.
You can see it in training and you can see it in games too and I think what we have done now is transfer what we have been doing in training out onto the pitch and that is important.
“You can’t buy confidence. It’s about working when you have hard days and tough days, like we did at the start of the season, and still believing that what you are doing is right.
“You’ve got to work your way through it and be bold and brave enough to say ‘we will get it right’.
“The performance was good, but the workrate and the effort was fantastic”
The last time Hibs won a home game in the league was back in March, when a goal from David Wotherspoon saw them get the better of Dundee.
But Saturday’s victory means Hibs are now unbeaten in their last five league matches, have picked up 11 points from a possible 15 in that time and have moved up to fifth in the table in the process.
And Fenlon, who fielded the same team as in the previous week’s win in Perth, added: “I think that a lot was made of the home form but we were the last team to lose that last season in the whole league.
“I think that sometimes you can look into things like that a bit too much.
““We know that we have got to be better at home, we know that.
“If you can pick up points on the road and win your home games then you can give yourself a real chance of finishing in a decent position.”
Collins said last week that he was looking forward to adding to his tally and inside the first few minutes, he signalled his intent by hassling and harrying the Saints defenders.
He didn’t have to wait long for that second goal and had the crowd on their feet after just nine minutes when Michael Nelson nodded a Kevin Thomson free-kick on and Collins stooped to head past young Saints keeper Christophe Dilo.
The powerful Hibs hitman almost added to his tally in spectacular fashion when he latched onto a clever ball from Craig. The former Swindon Town striker’s turn and shot deserved a goal but this time the ball curled just a couple of inches wide of Dilo’s right-hand corner.
Fenlon’s side came close yet again when Paul Hanlon picked out Lewis Stevenson on the left and he fed it into the middle for Heffernan, whose shot was only just tipped around the post by Dilo.
Then Craig’s inswinging corner was almost converted when it eventually fell to Robertson on the far side, but yet again a brilliant block from Dilo kept Hibs out.
The chances were coming thick and fast for Hibs and Dilo had already had to pull off a brilliant stop from a long-range Craig effort a few minutes into the second half when the home side carved out their second goal.
Robertson had caused Saints problems throughout the first half and he had a hand in Hibs’ second goal, picking out Alan Maybury with a neat pass.
The right-back, who had an excellent game throughout, fired the ball across the face of goal and Heffernan wasted no time in diverting it beyond Dilo from an acute angle.
There could have been a third for Hibs when Craig looked up to see Dilo some distance off his line but the Saints keeper managed to backtrack enough to claw the resulting long, dipping effort away.
Just as it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for the struggling Saints Danny Grainger, who had only been booked a few minutes earlier for back-chatting to the referee, picked up a bizarre second yellow for hitting a free-kick off of Maybury.
The Hibs player had been trying to prevent Grainger from being able to hit the dead ball quickly and Saints boss Danny Lennon said: “It was very frustrating because the substitution we were about to make was Danny. It is the first time ever that I have seen a player sent off for trying to take a quick free-kick and that is all I will say on the matter.”
While he was disappointed with the result though, Lennon insisted that there was not too much he could criticise his players for. And he added: “I believe that the players are giving everything, physically, and battling. That is very evident.
“I thought that we were brave in the way that we approached the game, we were very attack-minded.
“But what I would expect is better quality in the final third of the pitch.
“We actually had more entries into the Hibs penalty box than they did into ours but the most important thing is that they had two goals to show for it.”