Michael Weir: Why I disagree with Stevie Mallan - and Hibs' next match is a must-win
This weekend’s match, to me, is an absolute must-win for Hibs. Nothing less than the three points will do following yet another match in which we’ve been in front only to be unable to hang onto that lead.
I read Stevie Mallan’s comments after the draw at Hamilton with interest. He was making the point that despite a run of eight matches without a win Hibs haven’t lost touch with clubs in the top half of the table.
While that’s certainly the case at the moment, I fear that gap between Paul Heckingbottom’s players and the rest will begin to stretch and stretch. If that happens then draws simply won’t be good enough.
A glance at this weekend’s fixtures shows, should results turn out a certain way, the danger of that happening becomes very real. Ross County are currently sixth, five points ahead – what if that suddenly becomes eight?
Or if Kilmarnock, Livingston and Hamilton also win? If that were to be the case then I’d worry that, along with a couple of other clubs, Hibs could begin to be cast adrift with the prospect of a very long season looming large.
The longer things stay this way, the harder it becomes to haul yourself out of trouble.
I also disagreed with Mallan’s claim that it will suddenly go “boom” for Hibs, they’ll suddenly score three or four goals in a game and “destroy” the opposition. To be honest, it’s hard to see that coming at present. Before talking in such emotive language the aim should merely be to finally get that win by whatever means possible and, I’d bet, most fans would happily see the scruffiest of own goals prove to be the winner this weekend.
A huge concern for Heckingbottom must be the fact his side have been ahead in five of their last seven league games and haven’t managed to emerge as winners. That’s a frightening statistic.
Against Hamilton I thought they looked quite comfortable after Mallan’s terrific strike, there was no doubt they were the better side.
However, once again their inability to turn chances into goals cost them dearly, just as it had at Pittodrie last time out. Against both Aberdeen and Hamilton goalkeeper Chris Maxwell had next to nothing to do, no saves of any real note to make, but has seen the Dons and Accies make the most of the one opportunity they got. It’s one of the oldest cliches in football, that one goal is never enough, a saying which has never rung more true.
Some might look at County having lost 6-0 to Celtic and look on this as a real opportunity for Hibs but I’d bet a lot of fans were thinking the same going to Hamilton who had been beaten 5-0 by Rangers in their previous game. As player you feel embarrassed at such a result – but it makes you go out next time doubly determined to put it right.