Posts Tagged ‘ Aberdeen ’

Fenlon Wields The Axe As Hibs Travel To The Highlands

Hibs have told Martin ‘Jimmy’ Scott that he will not feature in the first team again this season and alerted other clubs that he is available on loan.

Manager Pat Fenlon has been unhappy about the discipline amongst certain players and Scott was recently suspended for seven days following his failure to turn up for training after the victory against Ayr United in the Scottish Cup.

Fenlon had decided that all members of the squad who had not featured in the cup game should report for training the following day. A message was went by text to the players concerned, however Scott claimed to have changed his mobile number and therefore did not received the message. He was adamant that he was not to blame; however, Fenlon did not accept his explanation and fined the former Ross County star the maximum two weeks wages.

The Livingston born midfielder has rarely featured in the first team following an altercation with team mate Sean Welsh during pre-season training, which resulted in the youngster receiving a fractured cheekbone.

He cost a reported £80k from Ross County and is under contract until 2014. Former Hibs assistant manager Derek Adams is likely to be interested in the player who scored winning goals against Hibs and Celtic in the club’s glorious Scottish Cup run two years ago when they reached the final. County currently sit on top of the First Division and are clear favourites for promotion.

Meanwhile the team are preparing for Sunday’s crunch game against Terry Butcher’s Inverness who defeated Aberdeen at Pittodrie last Saturday before losing at home to St Johnstone in midweek.

On loan Norwich right back George Francomb recognises the importance of the game which will be played 24 hours after fellow strugglers Dunfermline face on-form Dundee United. He told The Scotsman: “I suppose it would be good to see Dunfermline’s result but at the end of the day we have to win on Sunday. We shouldn’t need any greater incentive than the three points from our match. First and foremost, we want to pull ourselves away from Dunfermline.

“If we can beat Inverness and Dunfermline fail to pick up points then we’ll have stretched the gap at the bottom a bit and closed in a little on Caley with another game to come against them in a few weeks’ time.”

Francomb accepts the criticism that followed last week’s encounter, but is keen to remind supporters of the quality of their opponents.

He said: “I think some people perhaps forgot that United are the form team in the SPL at the moment, they are on a great run and had just beaten Rangers.

“But that’s what happens when you are a football player. You have to take the criticism when you are losing. We’d put together three matches unbeaten before the Hearts game when everyone loved us then all of a sudden everyone is criticising us. You just have to take it on the chin and work harder for good results.

“We had quite a lot of possession in the first half, we kept the ball and were able to play high up the pitch but we didn’t keep it in the second half and when that happens, you find yourself penned in, as we were.”

Earlier this season Hibs recorded their first ever victory in Inverness thanks to an injury time goal by Garry O’Connor. A repeat of that result would ease a few worries around Easter Road. Skipper James McPake, Ian Murray and Danny Galbraith have all resumed full training following injuries, and the on-loan Coventry City defender is expected to start this weekend.

Matt Doherty enjoying his loan spell at Hibs

Avoiding relegation rather than picking up silverware was Matt Doherty’s main objective when former manager Pat Fenlon came calling on the last day of the transfer window, particularly when he realised that he was one of eight new signings for the Easter Road men.

Since then, the former Bohemians defender has won over the Hibs support with several outstanding performances in the back four, and he is now looking forward to a semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden Park next month.

Although signed by Fenlon for Bohs, Doherty never played a competitive game for the club before being spotted by Wolves in a pre-season friendly against them. Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was so impressed; he paid a reported £75k for the young defender, and awarded him a two year contract. So far he has played two games for the Premier League club, against Doncaster and Liverpool, and is considered a player with huge potential by the Molineux faithful.

Semi-final opponents Aberdeen are currently ten points and three places above Hibs and are enjoying a run of 13 matches undefeated but, in three games between the sides this season, only a disputed penalty at Pittodrie, for which Dons youngster Peter Pawlett received a two match ban for diving, separated the teams. The other two matches, both played at Easter Road, ended in no-scoring draws, leaving the semi-final finely balanced, with both Pat Fenlon and Craig Brown equally determined to reward their supporters for a poor season.

The Dublin born youngster told the Edinburgh Evening News: “When we came to Hibs we were all people who did not know each other, but that has worked for us. The boys have all settled in well, we’re looking solid at the back and playing with a lot of confidence going forward.

“We’ve been keeping clean sheets and even if we are not winning every match we have been creating chances in all of our games which has given everyone a boost.”

“I thought Somerset Park was great, a nice little stadium. I thought the fans, packed in and standing round three sides of the ground made for a real cup-tie feeling.

“Now we are swapping that for Hampden with more than 52,000 seats and I’m sure it will be almost full when the semi comes around. It’s something for us all to look forward to. I have to admit that it’s a real bonus.

“When I came to Hibs all I was thinking about was the league games to be played but then I found out after we’d beaten Kilmarnock that if we were to win at Ayr we’d be playing at Hampden.

“It will be my first semi- final at this level of football; we’ll be up for the game just as Aberdeen will. It’s a chance for us to win a bit of silverware this club hasn’t had in a long time and while it won’t be easy, in Cup football things can go your way on the day.”

Doherty was surprised to find himself playing at left back in the quarter final tie, after replacing Gambian internationalist Pa Kujabi who had felt ill at half-time.

He said: “I thought I’d be going in alongside James McPake with Paul Hanlon going out but the gaffer asked me how I was at left back. I just wanted to get on the pitch so I told him ‘fine’, and it worked out just that.”

If Doherty wants to know what it’s like to play at the national stadium, he need only ask Wolves team mate Steven Fletcher who reserved arguably his best performance in the green jersey, scoring twice against Kilmarnock in the League Cup Final, exactly five years ago this Sunday.

All thoughts of Hampden have been put on hold this week however as Hibs play city rivals Hearts at Tynecastle, determined to end a run of nine derbies going back three years without a victory. With fellow relegation candidates Dunfermline idle this weekend, Doherty knows that a victory would move them seven points clear and provide a huge boost in the fight against the drop.

He said: “I’ve heard all about it, it’s a massive game for both clubs and it would be even nicer to win away from home. It’s a chance to pull ourselves that bit further away from Dunfermline. We’ll be going into it with confidence.”

Midfielder Isaiah Osbourne will miss the derby through suspension as will Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas. The match kicks off at 1200 on Sunday and will be shown live on ESPN.

Doyle sends new-look Hibs into the last eight of the Scottish Cup

The excitement in the cold winter air was palpable around Easter Road on Saturday, as Hibs prepared to face Kilmarnock in 5th round of the Scottish Cup. Despite league woes continuing, having suffered a four nil defeat to Rangers in Glasgow the previous weekend, Pat Fenlon’s dramatic overhaul of the squad in the closing stages of the January transfer window prompted a welcome wave of optimism amongst the supporters.

From kick-off, this optimism was given justification. Hibs pressed ahead, applying early pressure as Tom Soares strode forward with the ball from his own half and forcing a fine save from Killie ‘keeper Cammy Bell with an effort from range. The resulting corner saw the ball hit the back of the net, only for the goal to be somewhat controversially disallowed by the referee for an alleged infringement by Garry O’Connor. Yet Hibs were soon legitimately ahead, after some neat link up play which saw Eoin Doyle cleverly nod the ball on to Soares to the right of the goal, who proceeded to cut the ball back to Doyle. The resulting strike found the back of the Kilmarnock goal as Doyle claimed his first goal at Easter Road and his second in the cup competition.

Soares and Doyle, after showing examples of effective link-up play at Ibrox last week, appear to be continuing on in that direction. From other areas of the park too, quality of service is increasing to Doyle’s benefit. David Wotherspoon’s pin point cross from the left-wing found the Irish forward at the far post, though with the resulting header looping over. Into the second half, left-back Pa Saikou Kujabi impressed on his first outing in front of the Hibs supporters with a rampaging surge forward up the left flank, feeding the ball through to Doyle with a perfectly timed and placed ball. Doyle was unable to double his tally as Bell saved the low shot, yet Hibs were showing a desire and finesse in going forward that had been lacking in recent months.

Yet it was in defence that the biggest change could be noted. Fenlon’s Hibs have been much criticised for slack defending in recent games, with the shambolic goals lost at Ibrox last weekend being a case in point for the season so far. Kilmarnock, who have gained plaudits this season for their attacking style, pressed forward in search for an equaliser as the game progressed. Yet Hibs held their grounded solidly and astutely, with the home support cheering every block, tackle, and aerial battle won. The new signings were thoroughly effective in this regard. Matt Doherty thwarted Killie attempts to at the Hibs goal with some fine tackling, and James McPake followed suit, throwing his body in the way of a James Fowler volley which seemed certain to hit the target as the Hibs defence again repelled Kilmarnock’s advances.

Hibs held on to their lead to claim a one nil victory and passage through to the last eight of the cup. “They’re a good team and they caused us problems but our work-rate and our defensive shape was fantastic”, Fenlon told the BBC. This was a much changed Hibs side in both look and demeanour, yet the most noticeable improvement was in their attitude. This was a confident and assured performance, and Fenlon’s work at the Edinburgh club appears to be paying dividends. Hibs will hope to carry this positivity into their league campaign as the battle to move away from the relegation zone and up the table continues next Saturday with a home tie against Aberdeen.