ICYMI: Troubling Hibs trend starting to emerge as points are dropped yet again at Easter Road
A couple of weeks ago, Hibs boss Jack Ross said he was angry but wasn’t too worried to see his side fail to claim all three points against Dundee United.
Disappointed that his men hadn’t managed to convert their superiority into an unassailable lead and allowed themselves to be hit with a sucker punch that cost them a couple points, he insisted he would only worry if the analytics showed there was a dangerous pattern forming.
The reasons may vary, but one thing that is becoming fairly troubling is the fact that a team that is looking to push for Europe and beyond at the top end of the table have now dropped points in 70 per cent of their home league games, where they have created openings but, for some reason, been unable to convert enough of them.
That day against Dundee United, they blew the chance to move into second. Against Ross County on Wednesday night, three points would have taken them back above Aberdeen in the nip-and-tuck battle for third place, offering a confidence-boosting end to the year. But, with the Pittodrie side idling due to Livingston’s frozen pitch, Hibs again failed to convert their early dominance and, struggling to add any fizz to what turned into an unusually flat and laboured performance, they paid for it with a 2-0 defeat.
On the back of the superb showing at Ibrox, where there intensity of the contest possibly sapped them of some of the usual verve, there should have been little to worry Ross and his men against Ross County.
A side who are capable of causing problems, their place at the foot of the table indicates that enough of Hibs’ Premiership rivals have found a way to solve them and Hibs should have had enough about them to do likewise.
In the opening spell there was every indication that they would, penning the visitors in their own half, winning set pieces and corners and forcing the relegation battlers to produce blocks and timely interceptions.
But, buoyed by the fact they we still in the match, Ross County stung them with a goal from their first real attempt at goal, in what was one of their first serious forays into Hibs’ half.
And, as is often the case, with a former Hibs manager, John Hughes in the away dug-out, it was a former Easter Road payer who played a pivotal role in claiming all three points.
In the 25th minute Oli Shaw linked up with Harry Paton and after exchanging passes, the latter fired a low shot from distance into the corner beyond the helpless Dillon Barnes.
Ross tried to change things, starting with the formation, ditching the 3-5-2 for a 4-4-2, and then personnel but Jamie Gullan, Lewis Stevenson and Stephen McGinn could not improve on Drey Wright, Josh Doig or Melker Hallberg’s contributions as the home side huffed and puffed.
Instead, County put the outcome beyond doubt and this time it was Shaw who scored, sending his angled drive into the net in the 75th minute.
It wasn’t the end to 2020 Hibs had wanted, given their efforts thus far this season, but they have the opportunity to bounce back quickly as games continue to come thick and fast.