Hibs left with tinges of regret as they enter 2021 determined to better

It is the time of the year when glasses are half full or half empty and individual perceptions will go a long way to determining just how satisfied Hibs can be with their endeavours as they hurtle into 2021.

Celtic's Diego Laxalt and Hibs' Paul McGinn in action. That 2-2 draw was just one of several frustrating occasions when the Leith side dropped points this season, according to the Easter Road defender. Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group
Celtic's Diego Laxalt and Hibs' Paul McGinn in action. That 2-2 draw was just one of several frustrating occasions when the Leith side dropped points this season, according to the Easter Road defender. Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group

While there is a degree of frustration that Wednesday night’s defeat by Ross County denied the Capital side the right to head into 2020 sitting third in the Premiership, the Easter Road men can still be proud of a points tally that signals an 11-point improvement on their form at the same stage 12 months ago.

The advances have been acknowledged, but such is the elevated ambition and increased belief at the club these days that the second half of the season will be fuelled by the what ifs from the first.

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“It’s good there’s a game in a few days,” said defender Paul McGinn ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Livingston, who was smarting from the way the whole team let their form dip during the midweek defeat. “Once we win that we will forget about this.”

But, like so many affirmations made in the the first flush of a new year, saying that and meaning it are often two different things.

After all, he is able to easily rhyme off games where points have been needlessly dropped, proving that such occasions are not so easily dismissed.

“It’s been a positive year all in. It’s just frustrating that there’s been games where we could have got even more points on board.

“Saturday at Ibrox, Celtic getting a penalty here, wee niggles which mean it could have been even better. But we can’t moan. It’s a good points total and if we repeat that in the second half of the season I’m sure we will be sitting pretty.

“But you have to keep getting better and I’m sure the management will be working in January to try and make us better again.”

Having produced arguably their poorest showing of the season so far against Ross County, there will need to be immediate improvement. Looking sluggish, individually and collectively, they lacked spirit and creativity. Any fizz they showed in the opening 20 minutes went flat when their visitors scored.

There was no explaining it, but there was no way McGinn was willing to accept any thoughts of a repeat either, saying that even when they have suffered an off-day in the past, they have tended to have enough about them to pull something out the bag.

“Even when it’s been a bit flat we have managed to come up with something. Maybe on another night [Christian] Doidge’s header goes in rather than creeping by the post.

“Here, maybe teams sit deeper and we have to break them down whereas at their place they might be more open. I think back to the Dundee United draw and we missed so many chances. Hopefully these things turn sooner rather than later.

“I can imagine Saturday will be the same. But you just take the frustration and anger and use it in a positive way. Livingston have hit a bit of form and managed to get their game off on Wednesday so they’ll be fresh.

“We know it will be 100mph so we have to try to channel that frustration and anger.”

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