Jason Naismith: Hibs squad aware of failings but players need to alter mentality

Naismith fronts up after Hibs throw another lead away

Friday, 6th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 6th December 2019, 9:17 am
Jason Naismith in action against Ross County at Easter Road - a game Hibs ended up drawing. Picture: SNS Group

Jason Naismith admits there can be no excuses for the fact Hibs have squandered a winning position in half of their 16 Premiership matches so far.

The Easter Road side have let the lead slip in seven of their last 11 games alone. After blowing an advantage in five of the closing six matches of Paul Heckinhbottom’s reign, it looked like Hibs had bucked this damaging trend when they recorded three consecutive wins following the Yorkshireman’s exit. They appear to have reverted to type over the past week, however, after taking just one point from their last two matches despite leading both encounters at the 65-minute mark.

The concession of a two-goal lead in last weekend’s 2-2 draw and the 2-1 defeat at Ross County in midweek have sparked a fresh bout of soul-searching in the Easter Road dressing-room as exasperated players and management bid to get to the bottom of a problem which is badly undermining their prospects of a fruitful campaign.

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“It doesn’t feel like a habit,” said right-back Naismith. “It’s a frustration more than anything because you don’t want it to happen. We’ve been conceding soft goals so it’s something we need to look at. It’s clear to see that we need to toughen up mentally to see these games out - nobody can argue with that.

“We can back each other up all we like but it’s clear as day, from the positions we’ve got ourselves into and the number of points we’ve let slip, that we’ve not been mentally good enough. The mentality has to change and it has to change quickly.

“As players, we need to realise how lucky we are to have this opportunity to play for Hibs and get a steeliness about ourselves. We’re going ahead in games and we’re probably thinking it’s won, but it’s obviously not won, as we’ve seen on far too many occasions. We need to get that out our game.”

Hibs’ problem is perhaps best underlined by the fact they have blown five points from a winning position in their two meetings with a struggling Ross County side over the last two months. In the penultimate league fixture under Heckingbottom in October, Hibs were 2-0 up on County and ended up drawing 2-2 at Easter Road. Their latest aberration against the Dingwall side on Wednesday, which left players dropping to the floor in clear despair at full-time,

came just days after they squandered another two-goal lead against Kilmarnock at Easter Road.

“We’ve dropped five points now from winning positions against Ross County alone (2-2 at Easter Road in October) and in both games we felt really comfortable,” said Naismith. “It’s not good enough. Wednesday was a similar problem to last weekend in that we gave away two soft goals and came away empty-handed so it’s massively frustrating. I

thought we were the better team for the full game but obviously we were hit by two goals from balls into the box. It was soft.

“We’ve played well in our last two games. Last Saturday we were the better team by far and against Ross County we should probably have had another couple of goals in the first half. Even in the second half I felt comfortable apart from the two goals but obviously we’ve walked away empty-handed so it’s majorly frustrating.”

On a personal level, Naismith is pleased to be enjoying a run in the team after a stop-start to his Hibs career. The on-loan Peterborough United full-back has started the last five games ahead of Tom James and knows he faces further competition for his place as club captain David Gray closes in on a return to fitness.

“I got injured in the Hearts game (in September) and Tom came in and did well so I had to bide my time,” said Naismith. “But that’s the good thing about it here - we’ve got a strong squad with everyone pushing each other for places. Dave Gray’s coming

back as well so it can only be healthy in terms of pushing each other on to become better players.

“I love it here, I love playing with Hibs. It’s obviously a massive club and every day’s a joy going in. I’m back to enjoying my football again. It’s an honour to be here.”