Jack Ross’s side travel up North to the highlands to face Ross County on Saturday. In any ordinary season they should be feeling firm favourites to take the three points back up the A9, but this is not any ordinary season. In a year of Scottish football disfigured by the virus, along with injury struck sides and manager sackings amongst many other things, this encounter could very easily swing either way.
Hibs have had a very mixed emotions season thus far, and they sit third place on a very respectable 52 points, their league position may come as a surprise to a few eyes, as the usual script the past few years has been Aberdeen sitting in their place, however the Leith side aren’t following the script, impressively winning almost half of their games this season (15)
Of course looking at the table would suggest that they have had a hugely successful season, which for the most part is correct,however they have faced semi-final disappointment not once but twice this season, as they fell short at the national stadium in the Scottish Cup and Betfred cup to both Hearts and St Johnstone respectively.
As this Saturday is fast approaching, they sit three points ahead of the Dons,with their last three games consisting of two home defeats to Motherwell and St. Johnstone respectively, with both of these sides coming out on top with clean sheets. The third game was a crucial tie against Aberdeen, where the Hibees were 2-0 victors in Edinburgh.
Ross County Focus-
As always it goes without saying we have had a highly inconsistent season in the top flight, which is usually always the case, most notably the thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is not taking our chances. We have had a total of 98 shots on target in the league this season, tucking away just 25 of them, we have also created just 31 big chances all campaign. However on the flip side, there can be many positives taken from the 31 games we have played thus far, such as demolishing Aberdeen 4-1, and most recently big wins over Celtic and Kilmarnock in our bid for survival, with the defence being extremely resolute against the champions.
However that is all in the past, and we must take a game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves whatsoever, as there is still lots of work to be done if we want to retain Premiership status next campaign, and when Saturday
rolls around, all current form will most likely be thrown out of the window, which is often the case in this ever unpredictable league.
One to watch-Hibernian
Now I could have handpicked many individuals out of this talented Hibernian squad, you have nearly everything you could ask for, they have a reasonably well-grounded defence in Hanlon and Porteous, an excellently well rounded midfielder in former county player Jackson Irvine and even the Hibees frontman and second top goalscorer in the league Kevin Nisbet can be in with a shout, however due to his lack of recent form and no goals in his last 7 league games, I have opted for Hibs winger Martin Boyle as my player to watch for the away side.
My reasoning for this is mainly due to his sheer pace and creativity he brings to the Hibs team, and he has proven more than enough this season that he has what it takes to change the game in the blink of an eye.
The 27 year old Australian winger has scored a respectable 10 goals this season with 5 assists to add to that, and could cause problems for whoever starts on the left side of the county defence come Saturday, whether it be young Leo Hjelde or the experienced Carl Tremarco, who did incredibly well against him in the last meeting between these two.
One to watch-Ross County
After an incredibly impressive performance last week, it should come as no surprise that I have decided to go with Staggies full-back Jason Naismith as someone to keep an eye on.
Coming back to the Highlands in January for his second spell at the club, Naismith has shown his defensive and attacking qualities, whether it be bombing down the right hand side and putting a threatening delivery into the box, which he did against Killie bagging two assists, or inversely putting in a solid tackle to bail us out of danger or even punting a clearance down to the other end of the pitch to give us time to regroup and set up again, the 26 year old Glaswegian is more than likely guaranteed to be involved in the game in one way or another.
As far as Ross County V Hibs games go this season, they have been nothing but entertaining, with a 0-0 in Dingwall back in October, and a monumental victory for the Staggies in Edinburgh just before the turn of the
year, so it surely won’t fail to disappoint, with many Ross County supporters remembering back in 2016 the famous cup final victory over the Hibees, which coincidentally this Saturday’s game landmarks the five year anniversary of the Highlanders first major trophy.
It seems as though County need the win more, should they get three points on Saturday they have the opportunity to pull six points ahead of Hamilton and a whopping seven clear of the foot of the table Kilmarnock, which could be crucial in our bid for survival.
On the other side of the equation, Hibs have the chance to give themselves some breathing space in third spot, in their fight for European football to come to Easter Road after failing to get it last season, as they finished an underwhelming seventh place, which is highly inadequate for the Edinburgh giants standards.
So League position should suggest that this game has a Hibs win written all over it, but as we have seen on several occasions that we absolutely cannot count John Hughes’ men out of this fixture, what we are all hoping for though is a repeat of the fireworks set off five years ago to the day, as this forever fighting football team took the win at the national stadium.