BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Hibernian head coach Alan Stubbs reckons Jason Cummings is reaping the rewards of a change in style after he netted his 10th goal of the season at the weekend.
The Scotland under-21 cap is on course to be the Easter Road side’s top scorer for the second year running after reaching double figures only 15 matches into the campaign.
The 20-year-old has now scored in seven of his last nine appearances and admitted after his goal in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Raith Rovers that he may have to revise his targets for the season.
Cummings bagged 22 goals last term in his first full campaign as a top-team regular but Stubbs has consistently talked of the talented youngster still having lots to learn.
Saturday’s strike saw him expertly bring a long Mark Oxley kick-out under control before deftly lobbing over Rovers keeper Kevin Cuthbert.
And Stubbs believes the former Hearts trainee, who was plucked by Hibs from part-time football and a gardening job just over two years ago, is benefiting from resisting the temptation to come deep and instead playing higher up the pitch.
Talking of Cummings’ goal, the Easter Road boss said: “To be honest, I think he had more than a little bit of work to do. He had to get the ball under control, resist the defender and he’s had to show composure to life it over the goalkeeper.
“It was a great finish.
“We’ve been telling him to play on the shoulder (of defenders) more and more, because he had a habit in his game where he wanted to come towards the ball all the time when I first came to the club.
“And his strengths are not necessarily that. He’s got better at coming towards the ball, much better.
“But his biggest asset, with his pace, is playing in between defenders and giving them a real problem.”
At the other end of the pitch, Hibs lost their seventh league goal of the campaign at Stark’s Park on Saturday and have enjoyed nine shut-outs in 15 outings this season.
However, Stubbs knows his rearguard will endure their stiffest examination in weeks when they host Rangers on Sunday and has urged them to be more diligent in defence.
He added: “We switched off for one second (on Saturday) and it cost us. This week we need to not switch off for one second, at all.”