Griffiths urges fans to take a Leigh of faith

As a lifelong Hibs fan, Leigh Griffiths is only too well aware of the pain his fellow supporters are enduring at the moment, their side well and truly rooted to bottom place in the SPL table.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 13th September 2011, 1:37 pm

But today the on-loan Wolves striker insisted Colin Calderwood’s players remain convinced their current plight is only temporary, that the long-awaited lift-off all at Easter Road have been seeking isn’t too far away.

Brought in to help bolster an attack which has managed just three goals in their opening six SPL matches – all from the boot of Garry O’Connor – Griffiths has yet to see another since his arrival on transfer deadline day, his two appearances since seeing Calderwood’s side fail to score against Hearts and, now, fellow strugglers Aberdeen.

However, the Scotland Under-21 hitman firmly believes that with a strike-force which boasts O’Connor, Akpo Sodje, Junior Agogo and himself, one touch of luck in front of an opposition goal will be all it takes to see the floodgates open.

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Citing the cross he delivered which eluded the outstretched boot of O’Connor by a fraction of an inch, the former Livingston and Dundee star said: “Garry told me afterwards it had skiffed his boot but I am sure if I put the same ball in another ten times he’d put it in the net ten times.

“It’s just the sort of thing that happens when you are going through a spell like this, things just don’t seem to break your way. Every team hits a bit of bad form at some stage or another of a season, unfortunately it’s happening to us right at the start.”

Rather than finding himself parachuted into a dressingroom feeling sorry for itself, the Leith-born youngster insisted he’s found exactly the opposite, a bunch of players brimming with a determination to get their season up-and-running as quickly as possible.

He said: “I can’t say I’ve found any tension or nervousness, we feel that our form will pick up in the near future and with it will come the goals and the points.

“We didn’t play well against Hearts, particularly in the second half, but against Aberdeen I thought we dominated for long spells and had a couple of crosses just looking for a tap in. Although we are bottom it’s not as if we’ve been cast adrift, a win on Sunday would have seen us climb a few places up the table. I’d imagine everyone expects the Old Firm to run away with things again which leaves the rest of us competing for third and fourth places.

“There’s only five points between us and fourth place, there’s been quite a few draws in matches and most others have been very tight so a wee run of results can make a big difference.”

Griffiths revealed he detected a pent-up frustration among the Hibs supporters, sensing just one win is all it will take to vent the anger and disappointment which has been growing and which led to another chorus of jeers on the final whistle at the weekend.

He said: “I’ve played at Easter Road before for Scotland’s Under-21s but to run out with a Hibs jersey on my back was a dream come true, something I’ve dreamt of since I was a wee boy. It was unbelievable to be honest and the reception I got from the fans was something I’ll cherish for a long time to come.

“You can understand how they are feeling but we need them to stick with us. Remember, we are only six games in, there’s still a long, long way to go and their backing can only help. We need them behind us and we could hear them when we were going forward.

“I can imagine what it would have been like had we scored, I’m sure the place would have erupted. Unfortunately, it’s not just not happening but the boys are more than convinced we’ll soon be getting the points which will quickly lift us up the league.”

The draw ended a run of three successive league defeats for Calderwood’s side and with the point came the bonus of a shut-out, only Hibs’ second in the SPL, although the Easter Road outfit had Paul Hanlon to thank for both, the defender knocking a netbound effort from Aberdeen substitute Peter Pawlett off his own goal-line.

The opening arose after one of the bizarre incidents Calderwood referred to afterwards, goalkeeper Graham Stack diving full-length to head the ball from close to the edge of his area only to find himself stranded as it fell to Pawlett.

Thankfully for Hibs, Scotland Under-21 star Hanlon kept his wits about him, not only rescuing the situation but most probably ensuring his side avoided yet another defeat.

Griffiths explained: “Stacky told us afterwards he was going to take the ball with his hands but then realised if he did so he’d slide out of the box with it so he used his head.

“But Paul realised what was happening, he was alive to the situation and came up with that great clearance. I thought Paul and Sean O’Hanlon fully deserved that shut-out as along with the other guys at the back they were magnificent.

“We’ll take the point but now it is on to Saturday and Dunfermline. If we can dominate that game as we did stretches of the match against Aberdeen then I’m sure we can take all three points.”