BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
HIBERNIAN were made to rue lapses in concentration in the closing stages of Tuesday night’s gripping draw with Falkirk, but David McCracken insists key mistakes were made in the Easter Road ranks before a ball had even been kicked.
However, unlike the defensive errors that allowed McCracken and Bob McHugh to snatch a crucial point in the race for the Championship’s coveted second spot, the Bairns captain pinpointed a slip of the tongue as a factor in his team’s impassioned display.
Fraser Fyvie was an impressive performer for Hibs on a night when it seemed their push for the runners-up place would be dragged back on track, but McCracken believes the midfielder needs to be as measured with his comments as he usually is with his passing.
Ahead of an encounter that was always going to be full-blooded, Fyvie said: “We’ll see how Falkirk react and if they have any big-game players.”
Come the full-time whistle on Tuesday that query seemed ill-judged after Peter Houston’s side had roared back with 10 men to grab the initiative six points clear in second.
“Somebody maybe needs to take him aside and teach him about making comments,” said McCracken when asked about Fyvie’s remarks. “There’s only one thing that’s going to do to an opposing team and that’s going to get them up for the game or make sure they prove him wrong.”
McCracken endured a see-saw 90 minutes from a personal point of view. His misplaced header back to keeper Danny Rogers gifted Hibs a calamitous early opener and he was adjudged by referee Crawford Allan to have fouled Paul Hanlon to allow Jason Cummings to fire in a second from the penalty spot.
However, the gritty 34-year-old sparked Falkirk’s remarkable comeback with his 87th minute header and there are no doubts in his mind that Hibs now need a riposte of similar character and resolve in their remaining four games.
Falkirk, who must only face Raith Rovers and Morton, have ensured second is now theirs to lose.
“Absolutely,” replied the defender when it was put to him that the ball was firmly in the Bairns’ court.
“We are in a really good position just now. Hibs have a lot of games coming up, focusing on the Scottish Cup too, but they still have to win those league games. I’d rather be in our position than theirs.”
What this latest confidence-sapping setback will do to Hibs remains to be seen, but McCracken believes the way the stunning match panned out could have implications beyond just the race for second.
With the distinct possibility the clubs could come together again in the play-offs, the former Dundee United and St Johnstone stopper reckons Falkirk’s comeback could play on Hibs’ minds further down the line.
“It’s not just a great point, but mentally it’s a big thing,” he added. “I heard a few comments from them after we scored (the first goal) and it’s clearly in their head.
“For them, that game should have been sealed, in terms of us being down to 10 men and them 2-0 up, but we showed again we can come back from stuff like that.”