By Iain Collin
HIBS DEFENDER Ryan Porteous has revealed how Efe Ambrose’s ‘swagger’ helped get him through the closing stages of Sunday’s victory over Celtic as time seemed to stand still.
With the Easter Road men leading 2-0 thanks to Vykintas Slivka’s first-minute opener and Florian Kamberi’s second in the 59th minute, Celtic upped the ante late on in search of a comeback.
However, Porteous and his team-mates stood firm, with the 19-year-old’s performance earning him the man of the match award.
It was another impressive display from the Scotland under-21 internationalist, who admits he was reassured by the presence on either side of him of central defensive partner Ambrose and left-back Lewis Stevenson.
He said: “I think I looked at the clock at about 72 minutes and I looked back 15 minutes later – and it was just at 75!
“They piled on a bit of pressure and you’re obviously aware you’re playing a good team so you need to stay compact.
“But I looked over and I saw Efe just swaggering about!
“So that gives you a lot of confidence when you’ve got players like that, and Lewis, who was different class on the other side of me as well.
“Efe’s a great player – not just a defender, but a great player as well.
“He showed his class, defensively, when [James] Forrest took it off me in the first half and he was there to mop it up.”
Porteous won plaudits for the way he helped Hibs handle Celtic’s misfiring attack with a series of key interventions.
And the teenager has revealed the role played by manager Neil Lennon in taking the rough edges off his game in recent times.
He added: “I try to base my game on being an aggressive defender.
“Over the last couple of years I’ve been trying to control that aggression and the gaffer’s being working closely with me on that.
“At times, you need to be aggressive in the challenge and aggressive in the air, and at other times not so much.
“So, that’s something I’ve been trying to work on and I think I controlled that quite well on Sunday.”
In what could prove a pivotal spell for Hibs, the capital men now host Rangers on Wednesday night before Livingston visit Easter Road on Saturday.
With another meeting with Rangers at Ibrox on Boxing Day and the Edinburgh derby against Hearts on December 29, Porteous knows they cannot let their standards drop in the coming days.
He told Hibs TV: “We’ve performed well but we’ve got another four games in the next couple of weeks, so there are some big games coming up.
“We’ve got a big game on Wednesday so hopefully we can build on Sunday and take that into the game.”