Unlike last week, when we let ourselves down against Raith Rovers, I’ve got sympathy for the Hibs players in the wake of the draw with Dunfermline.
Ordinarily, we would expect to beat a mid-table second-tier side, but I think it was pretty clear that there was no lack of effort or application from the team on Saturday. Hibs started strongly and then simply ran out of legs after all the effort they had put in just three days earlier against Hearts. I genuinely think they had nothing left to give after all their exertions on Wednesday and I think the manager will have recognised that as well.
The injury to Liam Fontaine was also a major factor because we had no other centre-back to fill in, and we were fortunate to get a point in the end because Dunfermline, to their credit, finished really strongly. They were one of the best teams I’ve seen at Easter Road this season.
Nobody made up any ground on us, so I’m certainly not disheartened that we didn’t win the game. After the way the players performed against Hearts, I think we can allow them a bit leeway. They treated last Wednesday’s game like a derby from the first whistle and didn’t give Hearts a moment to breathe. It was a brilliant performance and it was even more impressive since it came just a few days after the criticism from the manager. They could have gone into their shells after that but they showed their character to respond so strongly in such a big match.
We’ve now got a really big week ahead. We’ve not won any of our last three league games, so it’s important that we get back on track against St Mirren on Wednesday. That’ll be a tricky game because they’re fighting for their lives and they had a big result at the weekend, but I expect Hibs to be a lot fresher than they were on Saturday.
The Scottish Cup tie against Ayr should take care of itself. They’ve caused us problems at Easter Road this season, so it will be a sticky match, but I think the fact we’re defending the Scottish Cup and can secure a return to Hampden should ensure the players are right up for it. The objective for this week is to stretch our lead in the Championship and book a Scottish Cup semi-final place.