Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon says O'Connor is vital

Hibernian players celebrate Garry O'Connor's goal against Motherwell

Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon feels striker Garry O'Connor could be vital as the Easter Road side aim to secure league safety and cup success.

O'Connor's free-kick gave Hibs the lead against Motherwell, who battled back to claim a draw late in the match.

"He's got one last week and obviously one this week, so that's what we're hoping will happen in the last few weeks of the season," said Fenlon.

"He's so important because he's just a natural goalscorer."

The Scotland cap has helped Hibs secure four points in their last two games, opening up a seven-point gap on the Scottish Premier League's bottom club, Dunfermline Athletic.

"In fairness, when I came in initially, he played probably when he shouldn't have been playing with an injury," Fenlon told BBC Scotland.

"We've worked on his fitness and left him out and we're hoping that's going to reap the rewards.

"He's had a baby last week. He's in good form at the moment and he's looking a little bit sharper.

"His performance, particularly first-half, was excellent for us."

Another free-kick, by Pa Saikou Kujabi, was less accurate than O'Connor's effort, the left-back almost hitting the corner flag with a low, trundling shot.

"It's amazing to see," joked Fenlon. "We've been coming here and players have been getting stick for things and Pa nearly hits the corner flag and gets a round of applause after that. There is madness in football.

"That's the end of it, he won't be hitting any more. He'll take the stick, he won't be taking any more free-kicks, that's for certain."

Nicky Law's late volley secured a draw for Europe-chasing Motherwell.

"It's probably a fair result," said Fenlon, whose side take on Aberdeen in Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final.

"We're happy enough with the point. We would've loved to have got three, but a point is not bad for us.

"We're looking forward to next week. There's been a lot of pressure on the players over the last few months in relation to the relegation battle and we've given ourselves a little cushion. It's a good cushion to have, I'd rather be where we are than where they are.

"We won't sit on our laurels and think that's it done.

"We've got a massive game next Saturday and great occasion and hopefully we can get to a cup final."

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