Any Hibs supporter will tell you that their journey will always be more of a rollercoaster rather than a simple bus ride. In the week that the club asked their supporters to once again jump onboard Hibs’ result was more disappointing than a clapped out old motor struggling in the freezing temperatures.
Performance wise the majority of Hibs play was electric with a style that would have enthused their expectant supporters but they were undone by an old adversary who made them pay for some less than economical finishing.
Christian Nade simply loves to score against us. The big striker comes up with the goods more often than not in a striking reply to the abuse he endures from the home stands. His goal in the last minute brought boos from the Hibees faithful but really we should have been out of sight before Nade’s intervention.
Boyle and Cummings had numerous chances to score, Liam Craig failed to take two golden opportunities and Hibs only had themselves to blame when passing up the opportunity to overtake Rangers.
Had Hibs gone in at half time four or five to the good no one could have complained. Alas it took until the 47th minute before Boyle opened the scoring but their frustrating profligacy in front of goal was once again their downfall.
If the two strikers had fired Hibs up to second in the league then onlookers would have been discussing a performance which excited and excelled in equal measures.
Scott Allan was at the heart of things using his passing range to kick start attack after attack whilst Dylan McGeouch picked up where he left off last week using his dynamism to skip past defenders and Scott Robertson provided a steel which handed the latter two a platform to play on.
Robbo going off early in the second half made a big difference but really the inability to finish Rovers off cost us big time. Second place was within touching distance but supporters and players alike were left frustrated by several missed chances.
Ultimately the reason Hibs languish behind Hearts and Rangers is down to their poor conversion rate in relation to chances created. It remains to be seen just how much the club will regret all these missed chances but to get where we want to be the goals for column needs to start improving.
They are producing better, classier performances as the weeks go by but goals and subsequently points are what count. Polishing off these much stated performances with a goalscoring shine would certainly help to fill the bus that the club are so keen on promoting.
The club really need to promote themselves though by shooting for a return to the top league.
The returns of Malonga and El Alagui will hopefully add much required firepower and help to take the burden off young Jason Cummings. Malonga is suspended for Saturdays cup tie against Arbroath but a return to the starting eleven for the trip to Ibrox is surely a certainty.
Had we been able to call on the two strikers in games against Falkirk and Raith this past month then I am sure we would have been looking at healthier goal tallys and we would have accumulated more points. Hibs have always had an ability to shoot themselves in the foot when appearing to be coasting to a result. It is that infamous ability that gives opposing managers and teams hope when up against it especially at Easter Road.
Saturday and Arbroath will not be an easy task, we must respect our opponents who have stuttered lately but still sit proudly at the summit of league two. I hope that Stubbs will not make too many changes in what is an important game not only in terms of the Holy Grail but in the context of our whole season. We must bounce back and look to win the game in comfortable fashion.
To do so handsomely scoring a few in the process would be the perfect tonic as we head to Ibrox a week on Friday. An Ibrox return will be on the cards for Dominique and he could be joined by deadline day signing Fraser Fyvie.
This is a fantastic signing; another where the club, as a whole need to be congratulated. The club also deserve praise for fending off interest in their better players with only Paul Heffernan joining Callum Booth on the departure list. As the hours ticked down Dundee United appeared to somewhat desperately tempt Hibs to sell Scott Allan. They had no chance, my fellow Hibees panicked themselves in to frenzy but I was sure that we would not sell.
My confidence was born out of the belief that I thoroughly believe the club is now heading in the right direction. The despair of losing two points at the hands of Christian Nade would have paled into insignificance if our prized asset was allowed to leave on the cheap. It has been a long time since any club cast aspirations for one of our players and when Dundee United came calling last night the window was well and truly shut in their face.
Rather than lose a player we have added to our midfield showroom with a player who is more than just solid and reliable. Fyvie may have had a couple of previous owners in 6 years whilst being loaned out to two lower league teams but even though his contract is only for 6 months I am sure he will display an engine and a drive that has characterised his play in his youthful years.
Fyvie, like Allan, went down south having made his debut at a tender age and despite not setting the heather alight his talent has never been in question.
Having listened to the club talk, seen them launch their share offer and watched as Stubbs continues to form a good, positive squad it made no sense for Hibs to even consider selling Allan. Alas Petrie, Dempster and Stubbs weren’t in the slightest bit interested. Now we can look forward to a midfield quartet of Robertson, Allan, McGeouch and Fyvie. Anyone wanting to lay claims to having a better midfield in Scotland, outside of Celtic, would be hard pushed to justify their claim.
What it does do though is increase the importance of gaining promotion this season. This is imperative if we are to keep the top players that we have at our disposal. It would be very hard to continue financing the driving of a Mercedes if we stay in the Championship though and downgrading our model would leave us in a state of disrepair once more.
Stubbs has been adequately backed by the board and perhaps more importantly he has spent wisely, something previous managers have failed to do. He has every intention of keeping our show on the road and in turn helping to fill this fictitious bus.
Stubbs has been a breath of fresh air for the Hibees but the facts at the end of the season will determine whether or not we can describe a year in the championship as anywhere near a success.
I am sure we could tempt the likes of Allan, McGeouch and Fyvie to stay for longer should we get back to the Premier League but without that incentive then clubs like Aberdeen and United will steal a further march on us.
Of course it is a double edged sword though and the players themselves have got to prove they have what it takes to return us to where they and the club belong.