BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Alan Stubbs has revealed his patience is wearing thin with his Hibernian side after a fourth consecutive league defeat.
Saturday’s 2-1 loss away to Raith Rovers left them six points adrift of second-placed Falkirk with just two games in hand and under real pressure ahead of the play-offs.
Having thrown away the possibility of challenging Rangers for the Championship title, the Easter Road outfit are now in danger of making their play-off challenge much harder by finishing third.
Stubbs has confessed that finishing second and qualifying for the play-off semi-final, rather than third and facing six matches from the quarter-final if they are to win promotion back to the top-flight, is crucial.
And, after seeing Anthony Stokes’ third goal in two games cancelled out by Lewis Toshney’s equaliser and Mark Stewart’s second-half winner, Stubbs warned his first-choice players their performances are simply not good enough.
The head coach said: “We create chances but you can’t concede the goals we conceded – and you can’t miss the chances we’ve missed.
“For me, too many players were affected by the pitch. It wasn’t a great surface but we didn’t deal with it.
“Too many poor touches and too many poor passes, and they need to do better.
“There’s a few of them putting themselves under real pressure for their places.”
Asked specifically about the golden opportunity spurned by Jason Cummings in the second-half, Stubbs confessed the top scorer is one of those who must do better.
The 20-year-old has 20 goals for the season but has not scored in six matches and somehow hit the underside of the crossbar from barely TWO yards out as he attempted to convert David Gray’s low cross.
Asked if he expected Cummings to net, Stubbs replied: “You’d expect anyone to score.
“He’s just probably going through one of those phases as a striker where he’s probably thinking he’s scored before he’s scored.
“We’ll keep working away with him.
“But we need to start taking those chances. Otherwise, you put yourself under pressure for a starting place, because there’s players who want to be in that starting position.”
Cummings should have drawn Hibs back level but the Scotland under-21 cap was replaced by Farid El Alagui moments later and was visibly angry at his horrible miss.
Stubbes added: “He can’t be upset with his team-mates because they’re giving him chances. He’s upset at himself.
“But you have to look at yourself in the mirror.”
With Falkirk’s astonishing victory over Rangers on Friday night heaping yet more pressure on Hibs in the race for second spot, Stubbs knows his side must snap out of a horror run if they are clinch the runners-up place.
They now do not play until facing St Mirren away on April 2 after next weekend’s encounter with Dumbarton was postponed because players are on international duty.
It means Falkirk could be nine points clear by the time Hibs are next in action if the Bairns can beat Livingston next weekend.
Asked to sum up his team’s play-off prospects, Stubbs went on: “It leaves us still with eight games to go and still all to play for for second place.
“We’re making it hard for ourselves at the moment.
“But second place is not given out just now, it’s given out at the end of April.
“So, we’ll keep going. We’ve still got a lot to play for.
“But instead of making it hard for ourselves, we need to make it easy for ourselves.”