Why Josh Doig is the most exciting Hibs Academy graduate in quite some time
It was the only reversal he experienced during his brief loan spell at the Spiders, with Ray McKinnon's side winning four and drawing the other two.
During the summer, before Doig burst onto the Easter Road scene, McKinnon told the Evening News that he had been blown away by the youngster's contribution and predicted a big future for him.
"He was absolutely unbelievable for us last season. He was outstanding. He must have got man of the match in three or four games," McKinnon said.
"He was brilliant, and everybody was making comparisons with Andy Robertson.
"The kid was phenomenal. He has everything. He's quick, aggressive, athletic, with a great delivery. We thought he was fantastic.
"He's 6ft, athletic, and has got a brilliant calm demeanor about him. I think he's got a huge future, I really do.”
He wasn't wrong.
Fewer than nine months later, Doig has scored his first senior goal for Hibs, been regularly putting in the type of performance that has prompted links with a string of top clubs, and is in talks over a new, improved contract.
Understandably, there is a lot of hype around the 18-year-old. Hibs fans are excited by the teenager; head coach Jack Ross has praised the youngster for his approach; even opposition players have clapped him on the back for his performances.
Whisper it, but there might be more excitement surrounding Doig than there was for the likes of Oli Shaw, Jamie Gullan, or even Ryan Porteous. And for good reason.
Hibs fans haven’t had too many left-backs to be excited about in recent years – and that’s not to take anything away from Lewis Stevenson or Ian Murray or any of the other players who have filled the role in the last 30 years or so. Yannick Zambernardi, Paul Lovering, Graham Mitchell, and cult hero Joe Tortolano all had their moments while further back the tough tackling of the late Erich Schaedler won him many admirers on the terraces.
More recently, fans still fondly remember Danish wingback Ulrik Laursen’s Nordic slaloms down the wing during the early Noughties, or David Murphy's achingly casual way of bringing the ball down before setting off into opposition territory for Tony Mowbray's teams.
Still just 18, Doig looks to have talent in spades – whether it’s a lung-bursting run down the wing followed by a cross, or a driving run from deep followed by an effort from 20 yards.
As he has improved, those runs have become more productive: since the turn of the year Doig has contributed a goal and two assists from just eight league games.
He's one of our own
While Hibs have had plenty of young talent come through the ranks in most other positions, there haven't been too many left-backs that have made the breakthrough. Sean Mackie has had a hellish time with injuries in the last 12 months, meaning limited appearances on the park although he did himself no harm with a clutch of strong displays earlier this term and in a post-Lewis Stevenson world, having Doig and Mackie as the two options at left-back wouldn’t be a bad position for Hibs to be in.
But beyond Callum Booth and Callum Crane, the two left-backs who came closest to dislodging Stevenson, Hibs haven't really had a homegrown left-back to shout about in recent seasons.
Granted, Doig spent time as a youth at Hearts but the Easter Road side can certainly claim to have played a key role in his transformation from League Two loanee to first-team regular.
Lewis the mentor
Doig benefits from having long-serving left-back Lewis Stevenson as his mentor and team-mate as well as the experience of former defenders Jack Ross and John Potter, who played senior football for a combined total of more than 30 years.
Stevenson is currently in his 16th season with Hibs and has won the Scottish Cup and League Cup as well as playing in Europe.
Handed his debut at the age of 17, he is well placed to advise Doig on the expectations of playing for Hibs at a young age as well as tactically.
It was the Fifer’s advice that enabled Doig to keep Rangers captain James Tavernier quiet during the December meeting between the two teams at Ibrox and earn a pat on the back from his opponent, while the youngster's humble, level-headed approach to the game is not unlike that of the veteran full-back.
Robertson / Tierney comparisons
Any young Scottish left-back making waves is going to face the inevitable comparison with compatriots Andy Robertson and Kieran Tierney. Both players broke into the first team at Scottish Premiership sides before going onto make a name for themselves in England. That Robertson also had a spell with Queen’s Park in his formative years increases the likelihood of Doig being mentioned in the same bracket and although it is early days yet for the Easter Road prospect, he has already revealed he studies both players in a bid to improve his own game.
The real deal?
Without piling too much pressure or expectation on Doig, he clearly has a bright future in the game. Beyond Steven Fletcher's tenuous link with Real Madrid, it is hard to recall any other Hibs kid attracting this sort of attention so early in his career.
Doig laughed off speculation linking him with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City last month. The player is clearly happy at Hibs and has been rewarded for his hard work on the training pitch, and the maturity he shows in post-match interviews and press conferences belies his tender years.
Provided he maintains his trajectory, there will come a time when Doig is ready to move on, but that would appear to be some way off at the moment, which means Hibs fans can, and should, enjoy his performances and growth in green and white.