An air of disappointment hung over Easter Road yesterday afternoon as the final whistle blew and the final score would be Hibernian 0 – Falkirk 1.
23rd August 2014 with a 3pm kick-off, Hibs would face Falkirk in their third league match of the new season. Only an hour before kick-off Edinburgh seemed to find itself in the middle of a monsoon. Unfortunately that made me think of May 25th 2014 when an hour or two before the match a monsoon drowned Edinburgh and seemingly Hibs’ confidence. It did not bode well.
Hibs were, of course, without Lewis Stevenson, serving a two match ban for the Compliance Officers “incident from nothing” with Jamie Walker at the derby at Tynecastle last weekend.
Starting line-up for Hibs then was: Oxley, Gray, Nelson, Forster, Harris, El Alagui, Craig, Heffernan, S Allan, Booth, Kennedy. Substitutes: Perntreou, Stanton, Cummings, Handling, Tudur Jones, L Allan, Crane.
Scott Allan getting his first start for Hibs as was Matt Kennedy.
Hibs started off the game with confidence, dominating well but what Hibs fans know is that even if Hibs start off like that, it doesn’t guarantee happiness. Ultimately Falkirk went ahead in the 13th minute when Rory Loy back-heeled a shot in from a pass across goal from McGrandles. Oxley was unable to do anything about it and the score was Hibs 0 – 1 Falkirk.
With Hibs creating 18 chances with which to even just equalise, never mind go ahead in the match, it should have been simple. It should have been textbook even.
Hibs can’t finish and it’s as simple as that. Credit, yes, to Jamie MacDonald because he is a solid goalkeeper and he definitely kept Hibs at bay on some accounts but in others it was entirely Hibs’ own fault. Working hard to create chances and piling through Falkirk’s defence, Matt Kennedy proving quite good at that, only to shoot wide or high and leave everyone inside Easter Road frustrated.
Mark Oxley saved Hibs’ blushes before half time with a couple of saves taking the team inside at half time still in the match at least.
Hibs were very difficult to watch in that first half. With passing good, chances created but not taken, you do have to wonder what was coming next…
Hibs came out in the second half with their heads high at least. No “poor me” attitudes this season, so far, and they came out for a fight. However, it didn’t entirely work out like that, for a short spell, with Falkirk pushing them back, Hibs looked like they were defending a lead rather than trying to push forward for an equaliser.
Falkirk had chances to take their own lead and increase it but it was their turn to create chances and not finish.
El Alagui had his best chance in the 63rd minute but his attempt to lob MacDonald went wrong and the ‘keeper was able to fingertip it away.
The 63rd minute also brought on Jason Cummings in replacement for Paul Heffernan. A justifiable substitution. Cummings certainly injected some beef into the team and they continued to press the Falkirk defence, but nothing coming from it, of course.
Sam Stanton replaced Alex Harris in the 79th minute and Danny Handling replaced Scott Allan in the 88th. The chap behind who screamed that Harris should never have been on wasn’t entirely being helpful. Harris worked hard, helping to create many of Hibs’ chances. Booing crowds weren’t helpful either but there’s more on that later.
Both Hibs and Falkirk had chances towards the end of the game to score and the majority of the play was down in the Falkirk end. It wasn’t tidy football though and there were times when the ball seemed in the air too much when it should have been on the deck.
Falkirk clung on though and took the 3 points dumping Hibs into 8th place in the Championship and pushing themselves up to 6th.
Dejected players sat on the pitch. The feeling inside Easter Road was not a good one. For their part the players did fight until the end. They didn’t give up as they might of last season, often coming out for the second half with heads on chests, not looking like a unit. Alan Stubbs’ Hibs definitely came out looking for a goal but they just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net and therein lies the problem. A problem that Hibs have one more week to solve if the problem is going to be solved with the bringing in of more players of which a striker surely must be one.
While I feel that the support has the right to vent their views I wasn’t keen on the booing that occurred during the match. I know others share the same view and there is no clear indication of what the booing is meant to achieve. What messages it sends out to them is that we are not with them and they will come out with statements that the fans were right to boo, it’s understandable they way fans feel. Well, I am most certainly WITH my team and I have not turned my back on Alan Stubbs or the team. We are three games into a new season. We were relegated last season in dire circumstances and we’ve had to make massive changes since then including a team rebuild, a new management structure.
The team rebuilding hasn’t just been replacing the players that the Mad Axeman chopped before he himself was, but it’s also involved getting the team to think of themselves as just that. Stubbs has had to make them think like a team and work like a team and I think he’s achieved that in the short amount of time he had pre-season.
There’s no point saying the game was good, because it wasn’t. There were good points, the passing play, the chances created, seeing Matthew Kennedy show us what he’s got, seeing them at least fight until the end. Overall, not our best game but we haven’t lost the league. I’m not particularly sure how quick people thought the rebuild was going to happen but it is happening. The signs are there and we have to stick together. Yes, discuss it in forums and with friends and air the different views but on match days we have to get behind that team and support them because it doesn’t work if we don’t. Booing them and constant abuse throughout the match will never be beneficial in the rebuilding of Hibernian Football Club.
Featured image courtesy of Simon Dirom