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Striking parallel as Fenlon rails against Griffiths claims

ONE man might not make a team, but a player who can score goals is a valuable currency in a division as tight as this season's Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Leigh Griffiths has scored 13 times this season
Leigh Griffiths has scored 13 times this season

It is the equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight.

Pat Fenlon seems to have spent much of the past few weeks growing increasingly agitated by suggestions that his Hibernian side have come to rely on their own top goalscorer, Leigh Griffiths. Indeed, only yesterday the Irishman was once again bristling at claims by Rory Fallon, the Aberdeen striker, that the revival of the Easter Road side has been entirely due to the striker's 13 goals.

"It's exactly the same reliance Aberdeen have on Niall McGinn," Fenlon retorted, smarting at the defeat meted out by the Pittodrie side at the weekend, a game in which McGinn scored the only goal. "Do people want us to take [Leigh] out of the team? We have goals in the team, there is no doubt about that. [Eoin] Doyle has goals, [David] Wotherspoon has goals."

Fenlon can, at least, rely on Steve Lomas to offer a more considered view. The St Johnstone manager will welcome the Edinburgh side to Perth this evening wary not just of Griffiths but several of his team-mates, too. "Leigh is on fire at the moment," said Lomas. "But we had it last season with Fran Sandaza, who won games from nothing for us with his goals. So Leigh is very much their main man but I wouldn't want to take away from any of their other players.

"Pat has good, solid, reliable SPL players, players who know the league and who won't be bullied, which tended to happen in the past. Pat has put his stamp on that team and by all all accounts they were unlucky to lose against Aberdeen at the weekend, they dominated the game but that seems to be the way in the SPL this season. Everyone can beat everyone else. It's all about taking chances and there is a massive incentive for us."

For Hibs, however, the game is equally important after consecutive defeats have dented the momentum that had been building over recent weeks. "A team is defined on how they react to adversity as well as how they react to winning," said Fenlon, who will be without captain James McPake at McDiarmid Park this evening. "It is part of growing as a team, learning to deal with that disappointment. We have to make sure we respond from losing a couple of games back-to-back."

St Johnstone, for their part, have the opportunity to move above their visitors with a victory, and Lomas is in confident mood after his players responded to the loss of an equaliser to 10-man Kilmarnock on Saturday by finding a winner.

"It was encouraging from a psychological aspect," he said. "It was like a slap in the face when they got the equaliser. We should have been more ruthless when they went down to 10 men but Killie smelled blood when they got the equaliser and at one point we were thinking we might be lucky to get away with one point. But the lads kept attacking and got their rewards."

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