Here we go. Time to try and figure out Hibs again. As if there’s any solving that enigma. Hibs fans have been through every emotion this season and it’s not over.
Sitting in Easter Road on Tuesday night I thought “we’re back”. We played exceptionally well for the most part and, of course Jason scored via a Falkirk lapse and then a penalty later in the game. It was Jason’s 100th game for the club and it was fitting that he should get the two goals for the win. Because it was going to be going to be a win, surely, with 85 minutes gone and 2-0 and with Hibs playing like they hadn’t in a few weeks.
I personally don’t believe Mark Oxley is to blame really or even any of the rest of the players, I think Falkirk simply got lucky and thankfully they didn’t get any luckier. We snatched a draw out of the jaws of victory. To be optimistic, at least we got one point instead of none. Though we should have had three.
However, it was what it was. The Falkirk fans had a good old sing-song leaving Easter Road with a good old rendition of “Two Nil and you F***ed it Up!”. We can hardly complain about anyone else singing it as it was recently in our repertoire but still, it was bloody annoying to hear it being sung by another set of fans against us. As they headed away from Easter Road a small part of me hoped their buses broke down on the way home or their trains were delayed…
Leaving Tuesday behind, where it belongs, we went into the weekend not on league duty but Scottish Cup duty. A semi-final against Dundee United who we’d already seen off 3-0 in the League Cup earlier in the season.
Hampden bound, yet again. I know the SFA like to have the Scottish Cup semi’s in Hampden but there was a case this weekend that some semi-finals could be held at another neutral ground, say Tynecastle. A very empty Hampden is an eerie place to be. Whereas Tynecastle would have been a sell-out with an electric atmosphere. Much like Hibs’ League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone. Not that the atmosphere was bad at Hampden, but it might have been better at a sell out ground. These things need considered. If not by the dinosaurs then by the clubs.
Anyway, semi-final time. Twelve-fifteen kick-off. Arrrrrgh! Who decides these things? Well, TV companies but you know what I mean. Back in the day if you read 12:15 as a kick-off time it meant someone had made a typing error.
So, Hibs started out well. Dundee United looked like they were in for a pasting. Well, that’s what we hoped. We were all over them and then our dreams were answered. Just before the half hour mark a Coll Donaldson hand ball gifted Hibs a penalty. Jason stepped up. Sure footed these days, this was a cert.
Only it wasn’t as Jason attempted a Panenka style dink that he hoped would drop over the goalkeeper but instead dinked over the bar.
Now, Alan Stubbs has said he could have strangled Jason after that but for the fans it was a hero to zero situation. What was going through the lads mind? He’s been accused of thinking only of himself and not the club but I don’t think that’s the case. He’s grown as a player and a person under the guidance of Alan Stubbs and I’m sure a few other people. I personally didn’t think he was only thinking of himself, I just thought he made a naive mistake. The time for practising those shots is at East Mains not in a Scottish Cup semi-final. However, if he’d scored it he’d have been a hero. Such is the fickleness of football.
Instead though, that honour went to Mr Conrad Logan. Signed in March on a two month deal he was really unheard of after the signing. Otso Virtanen remained the back up goalie in our matches with no hint of Logan replacing him.
Oxley, thanks to losing a contact lens, found himself with a suspension from the semi-final (work that out SFA) so Mr Stubbs had a problem coming into Saturday’s game. Play the faithful back up keeper, young, not that much experience. Or play the out of shape player who hadn’t played for sixteen months and came to Hibs as a free agent after being released by high-flying Leicester City last season when they weren’t so high-flying.
Logan has had lots of loan spells throughout his time with Leicester. He’s never really made his mark on the game down south so a spell up north in Scotland wasn’t a bad choice for the now thirty-year old (twenty-nine on his Hibs debut). Keen on getting time between the pipes he came to Hibs for a short contract. Out of shape and a long way from ideal fitness it might have came as something of a surprise that he was picked over Virtanen for the semi-final at Hampden.
What a choice though. Many, and I include myself, thought “what the f***?” when the lad walked out the tunnel and I was wrong to think that. A few extra pounds doesn’t cloud an excellent goalkeeping mind and that is what Conrad Logan has. His mind is sharp and he reads the game so very, very well.
He made three excellent saves during the ninety minutes but his shining time would come in the penalty shoot-out. While Jason scored the winning penalty to take Hibs through to the final (and almost deleting his error) Conrad Logan made two excellent saves that denied Dundee United penalties and gave Hibs the advantage.
In doing that Conrad Logan made himself a legend after one match. Clearly showing Stubbs that he can do the job between the pipes when he’s far from fit. One wonders what he might be like when fit. Unbeatable? Hopefully. Logan knows his mind and we have to hope that this a performance he can pull off again and again and that he’s not a one hit wonder. He’s given us every indication that he’s the real deal and, I’m sorry Ox I am a fan, but I’d put Logan in the net on Wednesday against Rangers. It’s not a slight on the regular keeper, he’s good, but Logan deserves his chance.
Stubbs was vindicated in his choice of keeper as Conrad the Cat read Dundee United’s shots and then saved the penalites. Logan became an instant hero for Hibs fans and as much as we celebrated Jason scoring the winning penalty we were celebrating the big lad on his skill and altheticism. It isn’t wrong to say that The Cat won us the game.
So what now for Hibs? We have Rangers at Easter Road on Wednesday in what could be a rehearsal for the final but is actually crucial for us in the league. It’s a must win really and we have to take the chance and hump the Rangers. Hopefully we’ll finally realise that Wallace on the left wing is a haunt and take him out. If not, we’ll struggle.
However, I remain, as ever, optimistic so come Wednesday night I’ll be in Easter Road at kick-off with all the hope I always have. Enjoy the game.
And of course, we’re Hampden bound again. GGTTH