Martin Boyle fears the cost of strike failings as Hibs slip down the league table
A month ago Hibs trudged off the Easter Road pitch gutted by the loss of a last gasp equaliser against Celtic.
That day their boss, Jack Ross, said that despite the frustration, it was a day to accentuate the positives. On Saturday, having watched his side succumb to a similarly late suckerpunch, this time against Dundee United, there was less benevolence.
Instead of focusing on the way his players started on the front foot, immediately testing Benjamin Siergrist in the away goal, or the ease with which the controlled play in the opening 45 minutes and significant spells of the second, he was livid that his men had not been able to make that count for more, bemoaning the lack of ruthlessness which ultimately allowed their guests to come back at them and snatch an unlikely share of the points, courtesy of Luke Bolton.
The fact it denied them the chance to move into second, above Celtic, and left the door open for Aberdeen to edge ahead of them on Sunday and leave them sitting fourth, exacerbated his exasperation.
Battering the United goal from the second minute, they were repelled by the reflexes and ability of United’s Swiss keeper, who pulled off two stunning double saves and weighed in with a few more laudable blocks.
But while it was accepted that there were moments of brilliance, with chances virtually on a conveyor belt at times, the capital side should have been able to put the match well out of their opponents’ grasp.
The worry for Ross will be the frequency with which his Hibs side have been unable to do that in home games this season.
On the road in the Premiership they have won seven and drawn one of their 10 games. At home, they have triumphed in just two games, and drawn five. Meaning that while the campaign has been a positive one, there remains plenty of room to improve, especially as Ross has often acknowledged that football is a results industry.
That made his post-match anger understandable, according to winger Martin Boyle, who contributed to the profligacy.
“I think all the lads knew what he was going to say and what the feeling was. We knew we didn’t take our chances and we got punished and that’s the long and short of it.
“Their keeper had one of those performances...it was phenomenal. But we should have scored. We need to be ruthless. We need to do more to put teams away. It was a dominant performance until the 92nd minute and then we do something stupid, switch off and drop two points.”
Hibs took the lead in the 12th minute, when Kyle Magennis' delivery into the area narrowly evaded Christian Doidge, who should have had at least a couple of goals, but sneaked into the net anyway.
After that, a glut of Hibs players were foiled by the keeper and the absence of a clinical finish. Their hope is that it does not come back to bite them.
“If you want to compete with the best in the league, you can’t afford those slip ups,” accepted Boyle. “It could be the difference between third and fourth. We have been in this position before, when we dropped points and we were punished.”
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