BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
SCOTT Robertson felt the play-off nerves grip Easter Road when he was a Hibs player – and is hoping the pressure gets to his old club again this afternoon when he returns with Raith Rovers.
The 31-year-old was a member of the Hibs team that succumbed to relegation from the top-flight two years ago following a tension-filled penalty-kicks shoot-out at the climax to an intense play-off encounter with Hamilton Accies.
He admits there was an unease on and off the field that day, on an occasion when Hibs allowed a 2-0 first-leg victory to slip through their grasp with Accies’ 93rd-minute equaliser.
It is an edge he believes was not in evidence much last season as the capital outfit struggled for promotion and eventually lost out to Rangers in another bitter play-off disappointment.
However, he is fully aware that, after Raith’s 1-0 success in Wednesday’s first-leg at Stark’s Park, the supporters’ frustrations could return and aid Rovers’ hopes of setting up a semi-final encounter with Falkirk on Tuesday.
He said: “When I first joined the club, I didn’t sense that (edginess). Then obviously, with the relegation, there were stories about them bottling big games and the results that followed after sort of backed that up.
“But last season, I didn’t think that was the case.
“There were games that Hibs should have won. In the Scottish Cup semi-final against Falkirk, they had enough chances to win. They should have won, but they didn’t.
“If you don’t score goals you can’t win games, and it was the same against us. They had enough shots at goal to win, but they never and we’re in a good position now.
“We fancy ourselves going into Saturday’s tie.
“The (Hibs) fans are just desperate to get back into the Premiership and their desperation maybe translates to the players. Maybe they just don’t perform to the level they know they are capable of.
“It’s all about results at this time of the season. They can play good football and have loads of chances but (it doesn’t matter) if you don’t win games.”
Despite Wednesday’s win giving Raith the upper hand going into the second-leg, Robertson is fully aware they need another determined display if they are to hang on to their lead to progress.
However, the Scotland cap firmly believes the Fife outfit have the players capable of producing when they need to as they bid to complete the first of three shock victories that would take them into the Premiership.
He added: “Having the goal advantage will be good going to Easter Road. It will give us something to protect.
“But we won’t be just going there to sit in and hang on for 90 minutes. We definitely feel that we can pose a threat to Hibs at Easter Road.
“We’re definitely thinking ‘the tie’s still in the balance’. It’s going to be tough. If we’re going to do it, it’s not going to be easy.
“But the manager’s just ingraining in everybody that as soon as we set foot on the pitch, we are more than capable of beating any team we are up against.”