Matt Macey glad to shake off loan tag as Hibs 'keeper stars in derby draw
Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey admits he is loving every minute of playing as an established No.1 – after a string of loan spells in England’s lower leagues.
The former Arsenal ‘keeper had three temporary stints away from the Emirates at Accrington Stanley, Luton Town, and Plymouth Argyle but arrived at Easter Road in January as part of the club’s planning for Ofir Marciano’s eventual departure.
He ws given a run of games in the Scottish Cup last season but had to play second fiddle to the Israeli internationalist until the summer.
Now the Capital club’s first choice between the sticks, he pulled off several fine saves on his derby debut to ensure a share of the spoils at Tynecastle.
"It's been quite a long time for me being a permanent fixture and not on loan,” he said afterwards.
"I've played a run of games when I've been on loan but now I feel part of the club and have that connection with the fans. That's been really important and having a good start to the season helps as well.”
Hibs last encountered Hearts prior to Macey’s arrival in Scotland but the 27-year-old was in no doubt about the importance of the game.
"I had a lot of fun. Most goalkeepers will say they enjoy a 0-0 – maybe not the fans, but I'm happy with it. It felt like an end-to-end 0-0 to me and the atmosphere helps as well,” he added.
"Even though I wasn't here before, I'd heard all about [the derby], all the noise this week, and I felt what it really means to everyone here. It's a big game."
Macey’s performance was matched by that of opposite number Craig Gordon, who denied Kyle Magennis and Kevin Nisbet late on.
Tipping his hat to the veteran Scotland ‘keeper Macey added: “It could have been three-all or either team could have nicked it. He's a top goalkeeper for a reason; he makes big saves but I felt like I did the same. That's our job really."
A point apiece ensures both teams continue their unbeaten run and positions at the top end of the table, albeit Rangers' win at St Johnstone on Saturday propelled them above the Edinburgh clubs.
Macey continued: "It's not a bad point although we definitely came here to win the game. I'm not sure disappointment is the right word, but there's a sense that we could have won the game and given the fans what they wanted but it's a long season, so we'll take it."
Hibs host St Mirren next week at Easter Road and Macey, who has kept nine clean sheets in his 18 appearances so far, knows that the side will have to put in another strong performance on their own turf to keep pace with the league-leaders.
"The gaffer's made it clear that we've set ourselves these standards now. We're not content with what happened last season. You go to win every game and we believe we can go anywhere and win now."