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Hibernian 1 Dundee 1: Attacking impetus is wake-up call for relegation rivals

HIBERNIAN have emerged groggily from the winter break.

The past fortnight might have allowed for an opportunity to kick back before kicking on with the rest of the season but on Saturday, they turned up at Easter Road looking like a side that had slept through their alarm; a dishevelled performance earning a point without really meriting one. Indeed, Dundee had already gone on the attack, and ahead, by the time they had wiped the sleep from their eyes.

That might have caused greater disappointment had it not been in line with their recent form. Hibs have been making something of a habit of inconsistency; a derby draw and a win over Celtic before the break having followed a run of three defeats in four matches. They would likely have suffered another against Dundee had it not been for one of their more reliable players, albeit one who can similarly be depended upon to cause a bit of a stir off the pitch.

Last week brought out the two conflicting sides of Leigh Griffiths' character, with his 15th goal of the season coming after an ill-considered remark on Twitter that has caused the striker to limit his presence on the social media site.

His role in much of this match could be accounted for in 140 characters but the influence he will have on the Easter Road side for the rest of the season is unlikely to be inhibited for too long. His goals have helped fuel ambitions of qualifying for Europe and he is revelling in an environment where he is adored – on Saturday fans asserted he can say whatever he wants on Twitter – even if his stock may have fallen at his parent club.

With his prospects at Wolverhampton Wanderers diminished until the summer at least, his chance of rehabilitation is linked inextricably to Edinburgh, so Griffiths would likely have preferred a bit more help from those around him at the weekend. Hibs were without Paul Cairney and so were denied a diligent and creative outlet on their left flank and that void only grew as the match wore on, with the Edinburgh side unable to supply sufficient ammunition for their most potent weapon.

"I don't think we created enough for Leigh," admitted Tim Clancy, the Hibernian defender. "We were sloppy in the first half and the urgency wasn't there; there were a lot of passes going astray. The more that happened, the more frustrated we got."

Dundee are awaiting news on whether they will also be disappointed in their pursuit of Gary Harkins, although given their bold team selection on Saturday it is difficult to see quite where the Kilmarnock forward might fit in anyway.

The bottom side are short on both points and time, and the decision to deploy four strikers against Hibs – Colin Nish, Steven Milne, Mark Stewart and John Baird were all named in Barry Smith's starting line-up – seemed one informed by desperation. Ross County's earlier kick-off and victory at St Mirren Park meant the Tayside club started their afternoon 12 points adrift, after all.

It was allowed to appear like a moment of inspiration when impressed on Hibs' toil, though, and the system seemed to allow for a spirited performance. It remains unlikely that Dundee will drag themselves to safety, of course, but there is still something commendable about the decision not to go quietly.

"Playing with four strikers, we are going for it now," said Steven Milne, the Dundee striker. "It worked well. I think the first goal typified that; all four of us combined for it. We changed it up a bit, it was fresh."

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