Behind Enemy Lines - 19/04/15

May 24, 2017

As a regular guest on the Monday Night Fitba show I have been accustomed to trying to be as non partizan as I can be when discussing the fortunes of both Hearts & Hibs. Most weeks it’s managable and I reckon that is down to the company I keep during the recordings. Yes everyone on the show has their chosen side but on the whole we share the common ground of just wanting to chat all things football related with a small helping of Alan Partridge & WWE wrestling banter along the way. When receiving any negative feedback on the shows it tends to be listeners not feeling that we are backing our own team enough or trying too hard to appear neutral. These points are all valid and led me to seriously wanting to test my credentionals this weekend by attending the Hibs Falkirk semi final at hampden as a honoury hibby. My reasons were two fold, I wanted to gauge the real mood of my rivals thoughts towards their team and I also was attending the match as a family gesture. My father in law’s dad had recently passed away and I felt it only be right that my father in law had some company for the trip and game yesterday.

I did have some concerns in the week leading up to the match. My rules for the game was as follow:

1. Dispense with any maroon clothing

2. Wear a long sleeved top to hide hearts tattoo

3. Dont do the twirlie with my scarf

4. Make no requests for “Hey Jude” or “Seven Nation Army”

It was a pleasant drive through to the game and the mood amongst the fans prior to kick-off seemed to be that of quiet expectation and confidence. A lot of the talk seemed to centre around who was going to fill the massive void left by the injury to David Gray and fans pointing at other sections in the ground and saying to their friends and family ” thats were we sat during the last semi or cup final”(the temptation to laugh at this all was palpable).

Hibs were quick out the blocks early on with Jason Cummings in particular setting the tempo with some decent runs into the channels and the bulk of the game being controlled by the Edinburgh side with Scott Allan dropping deep and involved in everything positive that Hibs were producing. Both forwards were pulling the centre halfs out of their comfort zone which seemed to highlight the need for a Handling type number ten to included in the side. Too often the midfield three were too deep and most possesion in the first half stemmed from Falkirk allowing Hibs time on the ball rather than Hibs getting in behind the Falkirk midfield 5. It was during the first half that we got to bear witness to the first couple of examples of bad luck which seemed to hang over Hibs during the whole match with Jamie Macdonald in fine form but also leading a charmed life when collecting Fyvies shot with Cummings sniffing for an opportunity. My emotions during the first half were pretty relaxed. I was enjoying the match as a neutral as there was interesting little battles appearing all over the park. Hibs playing some decent stuff althought maybe not at the right tempo with Falkirk proving to be very useful at pressing the ball high up the park similar to their performance at Tynecastle back in January.

As the second half began, it looked clear that Falkirk would settle for a penalty shoot-out using any opportunity to slow the pace of the game to their advantage. Hibs meanwhile looked keen to inject some energy in proceedings but Allan aside looked unable to unlock the stubborn Falkirk back line. Mcgeouch in an unfamiliar wing back role was always providing a good outlet but at times his final ball was a big let down. Chance after chance was now being squandered with Stevenson & Mcgeouch the main culprits. It was at these stages of the game that I began to let the frustration from those sitting around me to affect my outlook on the game. I was now laughing in disbelief as Allan attempted his disguised pass for the 50th time. You could sense there was the feeling of “here we go again” from the travelling hoards in green and white. The inevitable struck in the 75th minute. Scott Robertson who looked to be struggling for match fitness was unable to prevent Blair Alston from lobbing in a decent cross for Craig Sibbald to head home from 6 yards. Questions could be asked of the hibs makeshift wing back but it was a well worked move from Falkirk.

Further frustration and desperation began to creep into Hibs game and the substitutions of Malonga and Dje Dje did little to pile on the pressure for the bairns. Every misplaced pass from a man in green was being met with groans and the fickle nature of football fans was beginning to show with Allan,Fyvie and Stevenson taking the brunt of the howls of derision from the Celtic end of Hampden with shouts of “Orange C**t” being aimed towards to main focal point and MOTM Allan. It was hard not to have the Thought of “you need a touch of fortune with the draws and a further slice of luck on the field to win a cup”as I walked out the ground yesterday. It’s fair to say Hibs journey to the semi final had involved a relatively easy run of games but the luck you need on the park seemed to desert them on a number of big moments yesterday. The result in the Inverness Celtic match probably bringing further thoughts of “what if” to the masses from Leith but if the positivity that Stubbs displays in his post match interview can filter down to his players then the season can still end on a very rewarding note.

Player Ratings

Oxley 6 – had very little to do. Looked slow to get down to Sibbald effort during second half.

Forster 6 – Solid but not a great outlet for cross balls when chasing equilizer late in the game.

Hanlon & Fontaine 6 – Not overly troubled by the cumbersum Morgan

Stevenson 6 – Never hid even though he was having a poor day going forward

Mcgeough 6 – Always looking to drive team forward but lacked a final ball all day

Robertson 5 – Did not look fit and was sacrificed after Falkirk took the lead

Fyvie 5 – Jack of all trades – master of none – not sure what his strongest position is. Very casual at times in possession

Allan 8 – Very exciting player to watch and has a real hunger to get on the ball and dictate a match. The disguised pass is used too often however.

Cummings 5 – Really bright start but faded quickly

El Alagui 6 – Good movement but on another day could have bagged a double