BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Alan Stubbs believes fans are beginning to see the real John McGinn after lavishing praise on Hibernian’s goal hero.
The 21-year-old turned in a virtuoso performance at Stark’s Park yesterday, particularly during an impressive opening 45 minutes from the visitors.
He broke the deadlock in sensational fashion after four minutes, unleashing a ferocious drive from 30 yards beyond the stranded Kevin Cuthbert, kissing the inside of the post on its way into the net.
McGinn’s composure on the ball and range of passing were also evident, albeit his influence faded as Raith launched their comeback in the final half-hour of the contest.
And Stubbs believes McGinn is “blossoming” as this season progresses.
“I was right behind John’s shot and it was moving all over the place,” said Stubbs. “I was just hoping it was going to stay the right side of the post, because an effort like that deserves a goal.
“It was an unbelievable goal and something we know he is capable of. If I’m honest, I’ve been frustrated he hadn’t scored more before now because he has a thud of a left foot.
“He gets into good positions but there is sometimes a reluctance to really put his foot through the ball.
“But we are starting to see John really blossom as a footballer. He is getting stronger and fitter and seems to be improving with every performance.”
Jason Cummings doubled Hibs’ lead midway through the first half before Jon Daly hit back for the hosts after 64 minutes.
A nervy finale for Hibs followed, including a futile Raith penalty claim when a Daly drive appeared to hit the hand of Paul Hanlon and a Scott Robertson shot cleared off the line by Liam Fontaine.
“We were excellent and moved the ball really well in the first half,” added Stubbs. “But it became a bit scrappy after the break.
“They got a goal but I thought we were very resilient. We knew we would have to deal with an aerial threat and I thought the lads defended really well, bar one lapse, and stood up to be counted.
“I honestly believe we would not have won that match last season.”
The hard-fought win closes the gap between Hibs and Rangers at the summit of the Championship to five points – until the Gers face St Mirren this afternoon, at least.
“I probably won’t go to the [St Mirren-Rangers] game actually,” he smiled. “I’m going to go home and see the family, which I think is more important.
“I know how Rangers play, not to be disrespectful, and I know their players, so I’m going to have a couple of relaxing days with the family.”