Hibs’ Adam Jackson: Relief to get win but we don’t want to be a long-ball team
After all the excitement, the anticipation and expectation leading up to the opening Premiership game of the season the over-riding emotion, admitted Hibs defender Adam Jackson, was one of pure relief.
That late swipe of Scott Allan’s right boot ended the deadlock and was enough to not only extinguish the anxiety and frustration which had been building as the minutes ticked away with St Mirren continuing to rebuff Paul Heckingbottom’s side, but earn Hibs the three points.
“I think we deserved the win in the end,” insisted Jackson. “But I think relief was the right word, I think everyone around the stadium felt it. All the pre-season, all the build-up is towards that first Saturday looking for the win.
“We had a lot of the ball, a lot of possession but probably didn’t create as many chances as we would have wanted, but we stuck to our guns even though it was getting to the point where everyone was starting to think it was going to be a no-scoring draw.
“There is always that temptation to start shelling it long, simply launching the ball and pushing everyone forward hoping something might happen. We don’t want to be that team.
“We want to play, to keep moving it, being patient and looking to find those little gaps and pockets in the right areas.”
To that end, Jackson believes the supporters played their part although, naturally, there were a few moans and groans as that vital opening goal failed to appear.
“I thought the fans were great in that respect,” said the 25-year-old. “We were trying to play the right way because St Mirren were compact and tight and I think the supporters understood it was the right way to play. “It paid off in the end, that one defence-splitting pass and we were in.”
With five new players in his team, head coach Paul Heckingbottom felt there were some nerves in the opening 45 minutes but, having got that period out of the way, his new players improved after the interval.
Jackson agreed, saying: “There’s all that expectation in the build-up to the first game, all that adrenalin, everything.
“There’s a lot of new lads still settling down, getting used to the atmosphere and so on. We’ve had a few games, some friendlies and the Betfred Cup matches which we were competitive in because we wanted to win the group, which we did.
“But there’s nothing better than the first league game of the season. It’s always a big one, you want to go out there in front of a big crowd and make an impression and show everyone why Paul Heckingbottom has brought you to the club.
“I think the first half let the lads settle down a bit and in the second we were better, moving the ball quicker and eventually got our reward.”
Hibs might have had to wait until the 85th minute for that, but Jackson pointed to an Allan shot which came off the inside of Saints goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky’s post before a Joe Newell header hit the same spot, Flo Kamberi knocking home the rebound only to be ruled – wrongly as it turned out – to be offside.
Both those incidents came in the seven minutes after the interval and, insisted Jackson, had either resulted in a goal, Hibs might have enjoyed a more relaxing afternoon.
He said: “If we score earlier their game plan has to change, they might have had to come out of their shape a bit and that would have helped us in that we’d have been able to get through their lines easier and create more chances.”
Christian Doidge certainly had opportunities, the striker scorning two gilt-edged chances but, revealed Jackson, his team-mate, while disappointed, was “buzzing” to have won the game, his pass having set up Allan for the winner.