BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALAN Stubbs insists Hibernian cannot expect poor refereeing decisions to ‘even themselves out’ and has urged his players to concentrate on making their own luck against Falkirk tonight.
The Easter Road side were seething at whistler Alan Muir’s failure to award them a penalty in Tuesday night’s 2-2 draw with the Bairns in their fiercely-contested play-off semi-final first-leg.
Despite David McCracken clearly handling the ball in the penalty area, with Hibs 2-1 ahead, Muir did not point to the spot in a key moment in a pressure-filled 90 minutes.
Bob McHugh’s late equaliser, courtesy of a blunder from Hibs keeper Conrad Logan, ensured the teams will start from scratch again in this evening’s second leg at the Falkirk Stadium.
It is a venue where Hibs have already won this season back in Octber, courtesy of a dodgy penalty awarded by Muir.
That led Falkirk boss Peter Houston to comment that ‘over the course of the season, things even themselves out’.
However, Stubbs claimed he and his squad have quickly moved on from the incident, despite, in his opinion, it being an obvious penalty.
Asked if Hibs could use a sense of injustice as extra motivation, he commented: “Not really. It has gone and if you feel injustice that can lead you into false pretences. It has happened and it is gone.
“If anybody feels that was not a penalty then they shouldn’t be doing their job, they are making themselves look stupid and very silly.
“You don’t want to know the kind of messages I have received from people in the game.
“It is a topic the day after, but we have not spoken one word about it since early Wednesday morning.
“It has gone and it is all about what we do on Friday night. We have 90 or 120 minutes to win the game.”
When Houston’s comments were put to him, Stubbs added: “I wish. It’s not as easy as that unfortunately. I think people say it but try telling that to a manager who’s not had them given to him. That’s Peter’s opinion.”
Stubbs sidestepped yet more speculation over his future after he was linked with the vacant manager’s job at Blackburn Rovers in the English Championship.
With Everton, his boyhood heroes and the club he played for and coached at, dispensing with the services of Roberto Martinez yesterday, it is a question he may have to get used to dealing with.
However, the former Celtic defender insists his focus is fully trained on tonight’s game and the hoped-for play-off final clash with Kilmarnock, as well as the Scottish Cup final against Rangers.
And it is his side’s ability to cope with the stresses and strains of knock-out football, that has taken them to the Scottish Cup final and to their League Cup final defeat to Ross County back in March, that Stubbs believes will serve them well against the Bairns.
He added: “We are entering the stage now where they are high-pressure games. Whichever way you want to look at it, there is a lot riding on them.
“And when there is a lot riding on the games, they do have an increased element of pressure.
“The fact that we have played in some big games recently will certainly help the players to cope with the emotions that will be running high before and during the game.”