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Posts Tagged ‘ Easter Road ’

Bike Ride To Raise Funds For Dan McMichael Memorial

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A Hibs season ticket holder will take part in a charity bike ride from London to Edinburgh next month to raise funds to help buy a fitting memorial to club legend Dan McMichael, who was the manager when the Scottish Cup last sat in the Easter Road trophy room.

Hugh Cockburn (57) who now lives in Sunderland will cycle from London to Edinburgh, starting off at Tower Bridge on Friday 3 May, arriving four days later in Holyrood Park.

Money raised will go to the St Patrick’s Branch of the Hibs Supporters Club, to be used to buy a gravestone for the club’s longest serving manager. Continue reading

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Hibs Chairman Rod Petrie’s Address To AGM

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Hibs Chairman Rod Petrie last night addressed the shareholders at the club’s AGM and once again urged lapsed supporters to return to Easter Road in their numbers or see a reduction on costs. Petrie also highlighted the reduced income from TV following the loss of Rangers from the SPL, and praised the work of the Hibernian Foundation and the supporters group ‘Let’s Work Together.’

He also apologised for the two seasons of under achievement and conceded that the appointment of Colin Calderwood was not a good one. Finally he advised those present about the two recent suggestions for league reconstruction currently being discussed by the SPL and SFL.

His full statement is printed below.

We have approved the Financial Statements for last year – only our second loss in eight years. We are keen to avoid a hat-trick and need your help to grow revenues while we continue to maintain a tight control on costs.

The poor performances on the pitch in the early part of last Season resulted in lower attendances and lower levels of income. This followed a difficult summer in which Colin Calderwood was linked with two jobs in England. When neither of the moves happened, Colin failed to convince supporters of his long term ambitions for Hibernian Football Club and Season Tickets suffered.

After a credible draw at Celtic Park at the end of October, Colin Calderwood left the Club following an ignominious defeat at home to Dunfermline Athletic in front of 9,531 supporters.

The way things worked out, the appointment of Colin Calderwood was not a good one. Mistakes were made. As Chairman, I take responsibility for that. I am sorry that we have all had to endure two seasons of under-achievement and decline.

After a thorough recruitment process, Pat Fenlon was appointed the Manager on 25 November 2011. He faced a tough task to turn around the Club’s playing fortunes. Pat completed the Club’s home SPL programme on 7 May 2012 with a return match against Dunfermline Athletic, this time in front of 15,281 supporters. The team won 4-0 to secure the Club’s status in the top flight of Scottish football – which should never have been put in doubt.

That progress and the Club’s re-engagement with supporters suffered a severe blow with defeat in the William Hill Scottish Cup final on 19 May. The Club apologised to supporters for the manner of that defeat in the aftermath of the game.

Some people had mixed emotions when the fourth round draw for this Season’s Scottish Cup paired last Season’s finalists. Pat Fenlon and the team were delighted to have the opportunity, so quickly to atone in small measure for the events of last May. We look forward to the fifth round tie against either Aberdeen or Motherwell.

The deep disappointment of May was compounded by major uncertainty over the summer months regarding the finances of the SPL following the insolvency of Rangers. New TV contracts were eventually negotiated with Sky and ESPN and approved by the SPL clubs on 3 August, the day before the start of the Season. The worst fears of financial meltdown were avoided.

Rumours of the financial position of Rangers had been circulating for some months but it was still a jolt to Scottish and European football when Rangers finally went into administration on 14 February. It took four months of twists and turns, deals and no deals, before the Rangers’ CVA was voted down by HMRC on 14 June.

Having run out of money, the Administrators immediately sold the assets to the consortium led by Charles Green, which had the effect of putting Rangers outside football. By selling Ibrox Stadium and splitting it from the club’s membership of the SFA and the SPL, Rangers had lost its ability to play football in Scotland or, indeed, anywhere in the world.

It took four months to put Rangers outside football. It took Scottish football just six weeks to find a place for the Rangers’ Newco.

Your Club did what it thought was right at every step of the process. The rest, they say is history.

Our performances on the pitch this Season have improved dramatically following the major overhaul of the playing squad undertaken by the Manager in the close season. However, it looks as if it will take sustained performances on the pitch over an extended run of games to have a meaningful impact on home attendances and so on Club revenues.

The number of home supporters attending Easter Road Stadium has grown slowly, game by game since the start of the Season – 9,024 Hibernian supporters attended the first home game of the Season whereas there were 10,136 Hibernian supporters in Easter Road Stadium at the last home SPL league match against Aberdeen.

And some 13,000 Hibernian supporters were here for the fourth round tie in the William Hill Scottish Cup.

It would be nice to think that those 13,000 supporters will return here at 3pm on Saturday for our SPL clash against Motherwell – or that we might achieve a modern day record attendance at 3pm on Saturday 29 December. The Celtic game has not been moved for TV. The only way you can see the match against the league leaders is by being here in the Stadium.

Growing the attendances by Hibernian supporters is our core strategy. We are asking supporters to do what you do best – support the team at home matches. If we cannot do that, and if we cannot grow our income, then the only route to get back to break even will be to make substantial reductions in costs. The Club is asking shareholders, supporters and everyone connected with the Club to play your part in getting back to where we all want it to be.

The Club has approximately 8,000 Season Ticket holders which is up on the number for last season despite the severe economic conditions facing every household. The Club is grateful to those supporters who rallied to the call in the summer to find additional Season Ticket Holders. In the main, it was existing Season Ticket Holders who bought the additional tickets or who bought Kicks for Kids tickets to help those less fortunate than themselves get access to Easter Road Stadium.

We know that there are still a significant number of individuals and families who had Season Tickets in 2010 and 2011 but who are not Season Ticket Holders today. Hopefully the Half Season Ticket offering will add to the number of Season Ticket Holders in the second half of the Season.

Members of the Lets Work Together group made telephone calls to lapsed Season Ticket Holders as part of the drive for renewals in the summer and their calls were appreciated by all who received them. The “Let’s Work Together Group” is a supporter led initiative formed over the summer and drawn from right across the Hibernian Family. Members of the Lets Work Together Group meet with staff on a regular basis to discuss ways in which the Club can improve. They have come forward with a range of good ideas to foster greater collaboration between Club and supporters. This is a small beginning which we hope will develop over the coming weeks and months for the benefit of the Club.

The Hibernian Community Foundation continues to make a difference in our communities:

· 468 learners have attended the Hibernian Learning Centre in the last two years

· 88 Football Fans In Training have lost almost 6 metres round their waists and 216 Kg in weight

· 67% of all participants in Fit For Work have gone on to employment or further education

· Over 45 players with learning disabilities have been coached by our U20 Academy players

·  And numerous young people have participated in a number of community coaching initiatives

The landscape of Scottish football is changing. The SPL spent two years developing a strategy for all of Scottish football. At the end of the day, the SPL could not win over 11 of its 12 clubs let alone the clubs which are members of other leagues. However, discussions are now being pursued in earnest between the SPL and the SFL under the auspices of the Scottish FA. There are two options which have been put forward in recent weeks:

· The SFL has suggested that the SPL and the SFL could be merged into one league for all 42 clubs organised into a top division of 16 clubs; a middle division of 10 clubs; and a bottom division of 16 clubs. That has merit, but on its own does not deal with the top clubs suffering a 20% drop in the number of games going from 38 league games per season in the current set up to 30 games per season in a 16 team league.

· The SPL has suggested that the 42 clubs could be organised into a top tier of 24 clubs with the remaining 18 clubs (currently SFL Division 2 and 3 clubs) organised in a manner that they think is best for them – either on their own or with clubs drawn from the Highland League; the East of Scotland League; and the South of Scotland league.

· The top 24 clubs would be organised into two groups of 12 clubs for the first half of the Season. They would play each other home and away, giving each club 22 fixtures in this first phase of the League which would run through to the New Year fixtures.

· Then, following a Winter Break, the second phase would consist of three groups of 8 clubs. This gives a further 14 fixtures per club and a total of 36 matches for the Season.

· Having a Top 8 continues the theme of ‘best v best’ with the top clubs playing for the Championship and for European places.

· The Middle 8 – possibly known as the ‘Play Off 8″ – would comprise the bottom 4 clubs from the top 12 and the top 4 clubs from the bottom 12. These 8 clubs would start on zero points and over 14 matches and would play for promotion and relegation. This means that up to four clubs could be relegated and up to four clubs could be promoted in each Season.

· The Bottom 8 clubs would play to avoid relegation and play offs which could lead to relegation from the tier containing the top 24 clubs in Scotland.

Both plans call for a change in the financial distribution model to reduce the huge financial difference which exists at present between the bottom of the SPL and the top of the SFL. A softer financial landing takes away the threat to the very survival of a club through relegation.

Neither plan is being advanced as a mechanism to provide for the accelerated promotion of Rangers.

There have been constructive discussions of late and more discussions are planned for the weeks ahead. Your Club will continue to play its part in these discussions at the top table of Scottish football.

Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, there have been significant changes at your Club – not just on the pitch but also behind the scenes and in the senior management of the Club. I should like to thank every member of staff for their hard work and dedication to the Club. Some of it is supporter facing but most of it is behind the scenes. They are the unsung heroes who help make your Club what it is today.

I would also like to thank Pat Fenlon for accepting the post of Manager at a particularly challenging time and for attacking the task of rebuilding the squad with conviction. Pat himself will tell you that it is still work in progress as we approach the January Transfer Window.

Today, we find ourselves near the top end of the most competitive league in recent years. We are 1 point away from second place; but there are just 5 points covering the six teams vying for a top six position alongside Celtic. With 27 points from 17 games; we are just 6 points short of our total points haul for the whole of last Season.

The stewardship of your Club is in the hands of the Board of Directors. The future of your Club is in the hands of the supporters who help in a real and tangible way by attending matches either on a seasonal basis or as walk up supporters. Our plea is a simple one – if you can, please attend matches at Easter Road Stadium to support your team!

Everyone wants Hibernian to be all that it can be, with success on the pitch, influence off it and making a difference in our communities.

Meanwhile, the Under 20 game against Celtic at Easter Road today has been postponed. This is bad news for Pat Fenlon and Gary Deegan who was expected to gain some much needed match practice following his recent injury.

Unhappy Anniversary for Pat Fenlon

Today marks the first anniversary of Pat Fenlon’s appointment as Hibs manager although he admits that it feels longer.

The former Bohs’ manager took over a club languishing near the foot of the table with crowds around the 7000 mark when he was named as Colin Calderwood’s successor. Despite yesterday’s defeat to Aberdeen, Hibs sit third in the SPL and the attendances have crept back to over 12,000.

Fenlon, who lifted five League of Ireland titles and three cup trophies during his nine-year managerial career in Ireland, was described as a winner by chairman Rod Petrie, but ironically, the favourite for the post had been ex Hibs star Michael O’Neill who was with Shamrock Rovers at the time and subsequently went on to manage Northern Ireland. Few amongst the Hibs faithful had heard of Pat Fenlon as he watched from the stand as his new team went down 3-1 to St Johnstone, but they would quickly see the passion so lacking in the previous regime.

The following week, his first match in the dugout was abandoned at half-time due to an electrical fire at Motherwell, with Hibs leading one-nil, which was a sign of the bad luck to come.

A busy January transfer window papered over the cracks, and amazingly the team reached the Scottish Cup Final where they were hammered by Hearts. They did however narrowly survive a relegation battle, beating Dunfermline 4-0 in the penultimate game in front of over 15,000.

Despite the ups and downs of his tenure to date, the likeable Irishman is adamant that he has enjoyed his year at Hibs.

When he was reminded of today’s anniversary, Pat said: “Really? One year? It feels longer to be honest!

“It has been enjoyable and it has been eventful, definitely – but whether it has been the most eventful, I don’t know.

“I have had periods in my career where I have managed clubs where players and staff weren’t paid for 16 or 17 weeks – so that’s eventful and a different type of pressure.

“With management, you take it as it comes because every day throws up something completely different. It’s been a pleasure managing this club and hopefully it goes on a fair bit longer. I’ve enjoyed it.

“We had some lows last season and some highs this season. But it’s difficult to put them into context because the last campaign was all about survival while this season there’s been more highs than lows.”

At least he has survived the clubs AGM, which is more than three of his predecessors, can say. Mixu Paatelainen, John Hughes and Colin Calderwood were all sacked in the week prior to the meeting as the board attempted to quell a fans’ revolt.

The supporters are desperate to see some stability at Easter Road, and Fenlon’s achievements so far have convinced many that he is the man to guide the club forward in the long term.

With a new scouting set-up being put in place and an overhaul of the youth academy structure under way, Fenlon is eager to make his mark in a way that will last.

He said: “As a manager, you want to see improvement on a regular basis. We’re happy we have improved but we are not sitting on that thinking, ‘That’s great; we’ve now got to where we should be’. We want to kick on.

“We are not fooling ourselves. A fair bit of work still needs to be done and we are looking at all aspects of the football side of the club at the moment.

“There is a lot of work going on all the time so we can help improve the team and the club as a whole.”

One surprising potential recruit is Kenny Miller who is understood to be keen on a loan move back to the team where he began his career under Alex McLeish.

The Scotland international is currently with Vancouver Whitecaps but has failed to set North America’s Major League Soccer alight since joining the Canadian side midway through the season, scoring only twice in thirteen games. He has not started a competitive match since the beginning of the month, when he came on as a substitute as Whitecaps side lost to David Beckham’s LA Galaxy.

The new MLS season starts in March, and Miller is back in Scotland training with another of his former clubs Rangers, but Leith would be his preferred destination.

Fenlon says he has been notified of the player’s alleged interest and admits he is curious, although he has not spoken to Miller or his agent.

He said: “It’s been mentioned to me in the last few days but it’s 
not something we’ve actively done anything about. Is he available and does he want to come and play for us? You never know. He’s a fantastic player and we look at all options to try and improve the team.

Sadly it was not a happy anniversary for Fenlon as his Hibs side lost to an on-form Aberdeen side, although many believed that Hibs deserved something from the game.

Fenlon said: “We didn’t deserve to lose. It feels worse than last week [3-1 defeat to Dundee] because we didn’t deserve anything out of that, but this week we deserved to win.

“Even a draw I think would have been a travesty. Their keeper was fantastic today, particularly the save he made from Eoin Doyle in the first half.

“I’m not sure exactly how many shots Leigh Griffiths has had but again the goalkeeper has made some great saves. We have to take it on the chin and move on.”

Hibs return to Perth this Wednesday before playing hosts to Hearts in the Scottish Cup fourth round on Sunday in front of a packed Easter Road.

With Hearts in financial trouble, many feel that this game could be the turning point in the club’s fortunes as their rivals will no longer be able to pay exorbitant wages to attract players, and future games will be on a level playing field.

photograph by http://www.jcmackintosh.co.uk

Chairman’s plea to lapsed Hibs’ supporters

Hibs’ Chairman Rod Petrie today thanked those supporters who have backed the Club this season and appealed to those still to return to Easter Road Stadium to play their part to support the continued improvement of the team.

With Pat Fenlon’s revamped team poised to go top of the SPL with a victory over St Mirren at Easter Road on Saturday, the board of directors are keen to see the gradual rise in support continue.

In a statement issued on the official website, Petrie said:  “The unprecedented events of this summer created high levels of uncertainty in Scottish football, adding to the commercial difficulties faced by clubs at a time of economic recession. The uncertainty was created by the actions of those people running one club, but the financial impact has been felt by every club.

“In our own case, this added to the difficulties presented by two years of under-performance on the pitch. A great deal of work has been done to address that, both on the pitch and off. Progress has been made, but we are still some distance short of where we need to be.

“The Club has approximately 8,000 Season Ticket holders for 2012-13, which is up on the number for 2011-12 despite the severe economic conditions facing every household. The Club is grateful to those supporters who rallied to the call in the summer to find an additional 3,000 Season Ticket Holders. In the final analysis, an extra 1,000 Season Tickets were sold. In the main, it was existing Season Ticket Holders who bought the additional tickets or who bought Kicks for Kids tickets to help those less fortunate than themselves get access to matches at Easter Road Stadium.

“We know that there are still significant numbers of individuals and families who had Season Tickets in 2010-11 and 2011-12 but who are not Season Ticket Holders for this Season. The challenge for the Club is to do all that it can to get everyone back on board, attending matches.

“Attendances at Easter Road Stadium have grown from 9,600 against St Johnstone in the second home match of the Season to 10,200 against Dundee in the fifth home game. The attendance at the match against Dundee as ‘club 12’ was well short of the attendance of 17,100 against Rangers in August 2010 when the East Stand was opened for the first time in a domestic fixture.
“Home attendances are growing from the low level reached following two years of under-performance on the pitch. We have tried to match the ambitions of supporters by investing in the team – the signing of James McPake was something that everyone wanted to see. Gradually, in difficult circumstances, Pat Fenlon has assembled a team that has proved much more resilient and competitive at the upper end of the table.

“Supporters like what they see and hopefully will be encouraged to continue to return to Easter Road Stadium in greater numbers. Supporters have created a great atmosphere within the Stadium and the players have responded – its just what we needed.

“We would like to do more to help Pat sustain that improvement again in the January Transfer Window. That will depend on our core source of income – receipts from attendances at home games between now and the turn of the year.

“There is no magic wand – everyone needs to do what they can, but only if they can, in these times of economic hardship. We are impatient and want to do more. However, we can only operate within the resources available to us from supporters.

“I would like to thank everyone for what they have done this Season. However I have to ask every supporter to look again and to do what they can from within their own budget – be that attending more matches as a walk-up supporter, committing to a half season ticket when they go on sale, buying their own little piece of the history and fabric of Easter Road through the iconic East Terrace scheme, or through other purchases at the re-vamped Clubstore.”

Hibs fans work with the board to help Fenlon

A group of Hibs fans have began a  three day initiative to contact as many of the non-renewing season ticket holders as they can to help the Club gain invaluable supporter feedback.

Following consultation with the board, volunteers under the banner of ‘Let’s Work Together’ gathered within the West Stand at Easter Road and started telephoning supporters who have not renewed their season tickets to find out the reasons why.

The scheme runs for three evenings, and already a number of fans on the Hibs Net forum have praised the efforts of the volunteers.

The opinions of the lapsed supporters will be made known to the board and so far several fans have suggested that changing kick off times to suit television schedules mean that they are unable to attend all the games. Last year, Hibs games kicked off at sixteen different times, and ironically this Sunday’s game against Dundee United has been brought forward from 3pm to 1pm at short notice, leaving many fans frustrated after booking buses and train tickets.

So far, Hibs season ticket sales are believed to be slightly up on last year however this number is made up from fans who purchased one to ensure they received a cup final ticket, and around 2,500 who bought one last season have failed to renew.

With the loss of finances resulting from the Rangers situation, Chairman Rod Petrie has targeted an additional 3000 fans to help Pat Fenlon build a squad capable of challenging at the top of the league.

Earlier today Petrie issued a statement on the Hibs website thanking the volunteers who took part. He said: “We are grateful to all supporters who, in these difficult times, have committed to help the Manager in this vital pre and early season period as he seeks to build a new and improved squad for the season ahead.

“We know not every fan can make the commitment, and every fan who attends Easter Road or buys from the Club Store deserves our thanks. But Season Tickets play a unique role, providing an early certainty of income that allows us to shape our squad.

“We can only spend what we know we can afford and season ticket sales are a big part of that. We would urge any supporters still considering – if you can re-new, please do.

“We are also very grateful to supporters from Let’s Work Together who are giving their time and skills to help the Club reach out to those who have not yet renewed, gaining valuable feedback. We will not be able to call all of the supporters, but the response to the initiative has been positive.”

Among the volunteers were lifelong fans including Kenny Harris who said: “I want to see Easter Road filled. I have been coming since season 65/66 and I just wanted to help,” Cat Twigg who said: “Sometimes it is frustrating to be on the side lines and this was a chance to do something positive. It is about helping, sticking by the team,” and James Belton who said: “This has been a valuable way for the club to get a great deal of information on the views of supporters. The response we have had has been very positive from everyone’s we spoke with, even those reluctant to renew were glad of the opportunity to talk.”

Meanwhile the Club have announced the player’s squad numbers for the forthcoming season. New signing Tim Clancy has been allocated the number two jersey, previously worn by Hibs legend John Brownlie, whilst fellow countryman Eoin Doyle will wear number ten.

Significantly the number seven jersey has not been allocated so far, and Irish international defender Alan Maybury wore this strip in Saturday’s draw with Huddersfield Town. Pat Fenlon remains keen to sign the former Leeds player and has confirmed that talks are on-going. The news that a deal has been struck with Sky TV may provide the necessary funds.

The full list is as follows: 1 Ben Williams, 2 Tim Clancy, 3 Callum Booth, 4 Paul Hanlon, 5 Sean O’Hanlon, 6 James McPake, 8 Jorge Claros, 9 Leigh Griffiths, 10 Eoin Doyle, 11 Paul Cairney, 14 David Wotherspoon, 16 Lewis Stevenson, 17 Ivan Sproule, 19 Pa Kujabi, 20 David Stephens, 21 Calum Antell, 22 Scott Smith, 23 Danny Galbraith, 26 Sam Stanton, 29 Ross Caldwell.

Turbulent Period Ends In Victory for Fenlon’s Hibs

AS HIBS LINED UP to face Celtic in the SPL on Sunday, they sat joint on points at the foot of the table with Dunfermline, with the Edinburgh side ahead only on goal difference. Three games – and sixteen goals – later, and Hibernian have a three-point gap above the relegation spot with a game in hand. The calm waters of Leith’s harbour give lie to the tumultuous fortunes of its football team. This comes as no surprise to the time-weathered followers of Hibernian, though for Pat Fenlon the experience may well be one that requires adjustment.

SPL-leaders Celtic visited Easter Road on Sunday 19th February. Neil Lennon’s side were in emphatic form, currently enjoying a record-breaking winning streak in the Scottish top flight, and their visit to the capital city continued in a similar vein. Fenlon’s side suffered a 5-0 defeat in a flat performance which, despite Celtic’s current form, served as an alarming wake up call to everyone involved with Hibernian who now teetered on the brink of the relegation zone.

A mid-week trip to Motherwell offered Hibs the chance of a respite from the hangover induced by Sunday’s heavy defeat. Motherwell, emboldened by the recent 10 point sanction place upon Rangers as they entered into administration, could begin to look above and beyond their 3rd place standing. Their recent form would suggest that they would be favourites ahead of Hibs, though most observers whom are familiar with the SPL will recognise this fixture as an entirely unpredictable affair, in no small part due to a 6-6 scoreline here in 2010.

Wednesday’s game was equally as compelling. Hibernian, bolstered by a sizable travelling support, took the game to the hosts early on. The visitors looked confident and dangerous in attack. Yet a return to some all-too familiar failings for Pat Fenlon’s team allowed ‘Well back into the game. It was a hard-fought encounter in which Hibs’ prowess going forward and in the middle of the park was undone by repeated defensive mistakes – including the gifting of two penalties by young Irishman Matt Doherty. The game finished 4-3. The enthrallment of the neutral offered scant consolation for Fenlon and his players.

To end the week, Hibernian travelled to Kilmarnock, eager to dispel the disappointment of the previous two matches. Fenlon had made a couple of key changes to the side that lost at Motherwell, replacing Matt Doherty with Pa Kujabi in defence and Irish forward Roy O’Donovan taking the place of Garry O’Connor. It was an astute reshuffle which appeared to banish the woes of the week that had passed. Central to Hibernian’s performance on Saturday was the return from injury of Tom Soares, on loan from Stoke City. Two goals from Soares and a fine 25 yard strike from O’Donovan saw Hibernian record a crucial 3-1 victory over Kenny Shiels’ Kilmarnock side.

The sense of relief around the Easter Road club was palpable as Fenlon recorded his second league win with the club, though the Hibs boss urged caution. “It’s one win, nothing else. If we can get on a little bit of a roll, that will help us”, Fenlon told the BBC. “It’s a massive game at home to St Mirren next week. It’s important that we stay focused.”

There is breathing space now between the bottom two clubs in Scottish Premier League. Fenlon’s plea for focus will need to be heeded if Hibs are to part from their capricious habits.

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.

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