“Bring it on home” will be the message from Hibs boss Pat Fenlon as the Easter Road side attempt to win three successive matches for the first time in almost a year when they face St Johnstone in the Capital on Saturday.
After watching his side negotiate two tricky trips to Fife, emerging triumphant against Cowdenbeath in the William Hill Scottish Cup and then winning the “relegation six-pointer” at Dunfermline, Fenlon is now desperate to see that form replicated at home.
If they were to clock up a third straight win it would, astonishingly, be the first time since Hibs, then under Colin Calderwood, embarked on what eventually turned out to be a five-in-a-row run of victories at the beginning of last February, a winning streak which ended the club’s then growing fears of becoming embroiled in a relegation scramble.
While the hard-fought win at East End Park eased Hibs four points clear of basement club Dunfermline, Fenlon is well aware that his team are far from out of danger and is anxious to see his side now begin to claw their way closer to those clubs above them in the SPL.
And a key factor in doing so will be ensuring a massive turnaround in the team’s fortunes at home were they have secured just one league win, coincidentally against this Saturday’s opponents, at Easter Road since the end of last February.
That victory came courtesy of a controversial Garry O’Connor penalty which clinched a 3-2 win although the Hibs striker, according to Fenlon, continues to suffer from the fall-out from that match despite having been totally cleared by the SFA’s Fast Track Tribunal of a charge of diving to win the spot-kick award. O’Connor was booked yet again for “simulation” against the Pars, a sixth yellow of the season which rules him out of the visit to Ibrox a week on Saturday by which time fellow striker Akpo Sodje may no longer be a Hibs player.
Sodje, signed by Calderwood, scored six goals in the second half of last season but has become a peripheral figure this time round with only four substitute appearances since the arrival of Fenlon.
The 31-year-old has now been given permission to have a trial with Belgian club KVC Westerlo, a signal that he’s set to become the fourth departure under Fenlon’s Easter Road revolution with Victor Palsson, Junior Agogo, Matt Thornhill and David Crawford having already gone.
Fenlon, however, appears comfortable at the prospect of losing Sodje, pointing out in the wake of the win over Dunfermline that he has three strikers capable of scoring goals: O’Connor, Leigh Griffiths and new signing Eoin Doyle.
He said: “They are different types, Garry is a big, tall striker who can link play and go in behind, Leigh and Eoin have good movement between them, I am very happy with what we have up top.”
Nevertheless, Fenlon continues to scour the transfer market for further new faces to join Doyle and on-loan Norwich City defender George Francomb with Arsenal kid Rhys Murphy the latest to arrive on trial at East Mains.
Adamant he won’t be panicked into making signings simply for the sake of it, Fenlon has urged patience from the Hibs support as the clock ticks down to the window closing on January 31.
St Johnstone boss Steve Lomas, though, has made a double swoop ahead of the weekend visit to Easter Road, snapping up Falkirk’s Jack Compton and Derby County winger Lee Croft with both set to go straight into his squad to face Hibs.