Mistake won’t haunt Mark Oxley, says Hibs coach

Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley spilled Mark Kerr's shot, allowing Lee Miller to score for Falkirk at the weekend. Pic: Ian Georgeson
Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley spilled Mark Kerr's shot, allowing Lee Miller to score for Falkirk at the weekend. Pic: Ian Georgeson
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Mark Oxley has been backed to banish last weekend’s blunder against Falkirk from his mind and swiftly rediscover the air of assurance that has helped him keep 11 clean sheets for Hibs this season.

The keeper has been in fine form this term, but was badly at fault as he spilled a Blair Alston shot at the feet of Lee Miller, who stroked the Bairns into an 84th-minute lead at Easter Road. The ten-man hosts battled back to salvage a vital point in stoppage-time, and goalkeeping coach Alan Combe was delighted that the former Hull City keeper’s error hadn’t cost his side a first defeat since August.

“Mark’s a big level-headed guy and he was the first to admit he’d made a mistake when he walked in the changing room afterwards,” Combe said. “The pleasing thing was that we’ve got some really good characters in that team and they went up to him and said ‘don’t worry about it, these things happen, you’ve saved us numerous times this year’. He’s pulled the team out of a hole in other games, but on Saturday it was the reverse – the boys pulled him out of a hole.

“Goalies make mistakes – it’s about how you get over them. I’ve no concerns at all about him having any doubts in his ability after a mistake like that.

“With his character and temperament, that’ll be him over it. He is a very, very strong character and I’ve got no doubts whatsoever that it’s already gone from his head. That’s it over and done with.”

Combe insists there was no need to make Oxley relive his mistake, and that all the work this week has centred around preparing the 25-year-old Yorkshireman for whatever Queen of the South can throw at him at Easter Road on Saturday.

“You’ve got to forget about it and move on, and that’s part of my job, to get him focused on the next game,” he said. “For me, what happened against is Falkirk is not one you need to watch back and analyse. It’s just a mistake, a handling error. These things happen to the best goalies in the world.

“You could see he was disappointed. In a situation like that, I just leave it until Monday morning to speak to him. Sometimes if you go in too early it can make the situation a wee bit worse. That’s me going from my own experience as a player. I would sometimes turn around to my goalkeeping coach and say ‘oh, just leave me alone’ and it would turn into a wee argument.

“I know how much he was hurting afterwards because he’s very much a team player, but these things happen in football, and it’ll happen again, that’s for sure. If you can limit those to less than a handful a season, you’re delighted. The big man’s not made many. As a goalkeeper who is still learning the game, mistakes like Saturday’s are going to happen. When it does happen, you just hope your team-mates can get you out of a hole like they did on Saturday.”

• HIBS were set to find out today if they had succeeded in their appeal against John McGinn’s red card in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Falkirk. Unless it is overturned, the midfielder will miss Saturday’s visit of Queen of the South and the top-of-the-table showdown with Rangers at Ibrox on Monday week.