Paul Hanlon reveals immediate post-match Hibs analysis by Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom wasted no time in getting his derby day post-mortem under way. His players had barely made the home dressing room after conceding a late equaliser to city rivals Hearts before the Hibs head coach was pointing out the error of their ways.
A video clip of the build-up to Uche Ikpeazu’s strike and how it should have been countered was immediately played to the assembled company but,insisted Paul Hanlon, there was no better time for him to make his point.
“Right after the game there was a clip up showing what he wants in that situation in future,” revealed the Easter Road defender.
“It was good to see it right afterwards when it was still fresh in the mind. We’d put ourselves in a good position just to not stop doing what we were doing.”
Heckingbottom had cited a “mentality shift” after winger Darryl Horgan had forced Hearts skipper Christophe Berra to concede an own goal, conceding his side had allowed the Tynecastle outfit back into the match.
And, admitted Hanlon, he and his team-mates were guilty of allowing their opponents to gain a foothold in a game which, had Hibs won, would have moved them to just two points behind Kilmarnock in the chase for a possible Europa League place.
Instead, Killie remain four points ahead and, with only three games remaining, Steve Clarke’s players are favourites to win that particular race, although Hanlon insisted that with a trip to Rugby Park still to be negotiated, no-one was writing off Hibs’ chances.
“When you score a goal it’s at the back of your mind not to concede,” he said. “How often do you see a team score and the opposition go straight up the pitch and get a goal.
“So for the next five minutes you get settled. We did that but we did not get out of that and back into the flowing football we had been playing.
“They changed a wee bit. Steven MacLean came on up front, which meant when they went long they had more bodies in and around to pick up second balls, but I think we could have stuck to what we were doing a bit better and had more control of things.
“It was disappointing. It wasn’t as if they were bombarding our goal, they got one chance and took it. But it all came from our goal-kick when we could have done better.
“I thought we were the better team. Obviously we missed the penalty [Marc McNulty clipping the outside of the post from the spot] but there was a good reaction after that and we got our goal.
“But we took our foot off the gas a bit, didn’t keep the ball as well as we had been doing and were hit, I thought, by a scrappy sucker punch.
“I don’t think MacLean hit it right when he put it back in, but it was one of them, it fell in the right place at the right time for them.
“We were the better team but, unfortunately, the final scoreline doesn’t show that.”
As disappointing as not winning the derby was, Hanlon admitted missing the chance to turn up the heat on Kilmarnock only heightened that emotion and made winning in Ayrshire a week on Saturday a must.
Before then, though, Hibs face a tricky trip to Ibrox with Rangers having won their last four matches, a challenge which Hanlon insisted doesn’t faze Heckingbottom’s players, pointing out they’ve not lost in three encounters with Steven Gerrard’s side this season while they also won twice in Govan last season.
He said: “We won’t fear them. We have our own agenda to try to push up the league and they are just our next opponents.
“Had we beaten Hearts we’d be right in the mix which probably makes not winning the derby all the more disappointing when you think what it could have done for us.
“We need a few favours now, but we also have to take care of our own business. If we can take something from Ibrox then I think we need to go to Kilmarnock and win.
“But we’re at that stage of the season when every game is tough for all top six sides. We are playing each other week by week which means the table can change quite a bit even at this late stage. We just need to concentrate on ourselves, get something from Ibrox and then go into the last two games and give it our all.”