Hibs must show more adventure and fortitude to avoid a real crisis

Saturday's 1-1 draw at Hamilton was the fourth match in a row that Hibs have squandered a 1-0 lead in a league encounter.

By Mark Atkinson
Sunday, 20th October 2019, 1:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 20th October 2019, 3:16 pm
Paul Heckingbottom cut an exasperated figure at Hamilton but could a more adventurous approach bear fruit for Hibs?

Despite holding an advantage over Hamilton thanks to Stevie Mallan's excellent first-half strike, Hibs' position of strength was eradicated by Accies midfielder Ross Cunningham's penalty.

It is becoming an all too familiar tale for the Easter Road side.

In September, Hibs took the lead against Hearts and Celtic at Easter Road but were pegged back, and in their last match prior to the trip to South Lanarkshire, they were in a winning position against a ten-man Aberdeen at Pittodrie before conceding a late equaliser.

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With the exception of the match against Celtic, where the champions dominated most of the play, Hibs have had presentable chances in those aforementioned matches to score more goals.

In the derby, Melker Hallberg skied a good chance on the edge of the penalty box, Christian Doidge missed a quartet of one-on-ones at Pittodrie and at the FOY Stadium, Daryl Horgan spurned a tremendous opportunity after good work by Joe Newell.

Those misses have proved costly. Hibs' morale is low and the team seems incapable of keeping a clean sheet. Although Hamilton never truly looked like scoring from open play, there's always the danger of a set-piece - and that rang true here.

A lot of finger-pointing has come for head coach Paul Heckingbottom, and yes, he must take a lot of the blame. Hibs do appear overly-cautious in their approach. He often goes with one striker and a deep midfield that is more functional than flair. However, Heckingbottom doesn't miss the chances. He doesn't clam up on the pitch when the game gets tight. He cut an exasperated figure after the match and you can understand why. They have improved from the first four matches of the season, but the fortitude is lacking within the group.

Hibs are in a period of matches which - on paper - looks fruitful. Three points away at Accies should be budgeted for, and the upcoming home matches against Ross County and Livingston are games Hibs should be winning. Be it the manager with a more adventurous approach - perhaps playing two strikers - and the players digging deeper to see out winning positions, the victories have to start coming soon.

Because, if they don't, the pressure will only intensify on an already under-fire Heckingbottom and, more worryingly, Hibs will be trying to avoid a bottom-six, potential relegation battle rather than the stated aim of top six and a tilt at European football.