Christian Doidge's 180, return of 'soft' Hibs tag, Hearts' new nadir, Edinburgh City blow big chance - this weekend's winners and losers
The best and the worst of football involving Lothian clubs this past weekend
Christian Doidge (Hibs)
The striker has now scored in four consecutive games, bringing his total up to six goals in the league this season after taking so long to net his first. Armed with a larger sample size, we can now safely assume that Doidge will no longer be considered a dud signing after his £350,000 move from Forest Green Rovers. This doesn't mean he should be expected to score every week. The scoring streak will soon come to an end, and he doesn't appear to be the most clinical of finishers, even in this run. However, he's somebody who will work hard in attack, link well with his back to goal, and make clever runs around the final third. Showing that he's also a goal threat was the final piece required to get supporters on his side and he's done just that.
Hearts have been in discussions with the former Barnsley manager for over a week now with some issues still unresolved regarding the details of the German's move to Tynecastle. Stendel's bargaining position was therefore strengthened on Sunday when a manager-less Hearts side went to Ibrox and easily lost 5-0. Hiring Stendel is just about the only thing that will pacify the fans, most of whom consider the 45-year-old to be of the required pedigree to lead the club forward. If the deal falls apart at this stage then it might tip the support over the edge.
The current Hearts team have taken 11 points from their opening 14 games. That's actually a worse record than the 2013-14 relegation side, who managed to rack up 12 points over the same time period. To refresh your memory, that was the youth-heavy team managed by Gary Locke amid a backdrop of the club's existence being in question on a daily basis due to administration. Having been harsh on Locke at the time, this writer now recognises that the current club ambassador actually did a decent job in the circumstances and with the players at his disposal. For this current squad and coaching staff, with all the international experience and talent available, to be performing worse than their early 2010s counterparts, well they should be ashamed of themselves.
The Hearts owner has approached the process of hiring a new manager with patience as she looks to make the correct decision. The problem is that such meticulousness will only be tolerated by a disgruntled support if the team appears stable and functional on the park, which is exactly what this side isn't at the moment. Taking time to consider all the options is all well and good, but the squad is spiraling at the moment and the longer this goes on the more resentment towards the owner will build among the support, while the players themselves will find their collective confidence at rock bottom. All of this will make it harder for a new manager to come in and immediately right the ship. It's time to stop pondering and start acting.
Those resentful of the 'soft Hibs' tag
Saturday was the third time Hibs have conceded an injury-time equaliser at Easter Road this season. Compared with the matches against Ross County and St Johnstone, the weekend's clash with Kilmarnock saw an impressive performance from the hosts for the majority of the match as they continued their recent revival under new manager Jack Ross. However, while the football was better, they still failed to see the game out. Being "soft" is an accusation that's long been thrown at Hibs, but one which was largely eradicated during Neil Lennon's tenure. This campaign it's returned with a vengeance as they've continually thrown away points from winning positions. Mostly this was down to Paul Heckingbottom refusing to either retain or sign a battling defensive midfielder to protect an aging and injury-plagued defence, so it's hard to foresee exactly what Ross can do about it before the January window.
If you supported any of Musselburgh Athletic, Broxburn Athletic, Tranent Juniors, Spartans, Bonnyrigg Rose, Haddington Athletic or a host of other Lothian clubs in the Lowland and East of Scotland leagues then you would've been disappointed on Saturday with the plummeting winter temperature claiming many football matches as victims around the country.
The League Two side were given a glorious and rare opportunity to put pressure on leaders Cove Rangers at the top of the table as Paul Hartley's side found themselves 3-1 down - en route to a 6-1 defeat - away to Annan after only 33 minutes. However, City were already 1-0 down to Queen's Park by that point and even news of Cove's impending demise at the Galabank couldn't rouse them, going down 2-1 at Hampden and not scoring until Allan Smith netted with just about the last kick of the game. Despite the embarrassing defeat, Cove retained their five-point lead.