PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM has expressed his pride after watching Hibernian extend their unbeaten Premiership record to nine matches with a 0-0 draw against Celtic.
The Englishman was delighted with his side’s intensity, pressing and, on occasion, their attacking endeavour during a thoroughly watchable encounter in the scorching Easter Road sunshine.
Heckingbottom’s only disappointment is that they could not convert one point into three, with Scott Bain making an instinctive stop to deny a combination of Oli Shaw and Marc McNulty in the dying embers.
The ambitious head coach has now challenged his side to continue their hot streak until the end of the campaign.
“There’s no reason we can’t [stay unbeaten], but it’s tough,” he said. “We’ve had to scrap and fight for everything so far so it would be a hell of an achievement – and would take some doing.
“But you see the effort the boys are putting in, they are putting their bodies on the line at the back and showing a willingness to go forward and try to win games.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win because you are always greedy! But I’m pleased overall, because for long parts of the game were exactly how we wanted to play and what we are about.
“I am proud of them right now and they deserve the support of the fans and to have good things written about them.
“We asked them to do a lot of things which would have been testing for them and maybe leave them a little bit exposed, especially when we try to press high.
“But when players are trying to do what you ask, you back them all the way.”
Heckingbottom did, however, have cause to exalt his goalkeeper on Easter Sunday.
Ofir Marciano made a string of splendid saves to deny Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and Jozo Simunovic.
“The best one for me was the one-on-one [from Edouard], a strong hand,” he added. “Ofi made one of those against Kilmarnock as well. He was great and they are pivotal things; stand-out moments.”