BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Bob McHugh is one player Hibernian will not want to see popping up in their box late on this afternoon if the opening-day clash is as tight as last season’s encounters.
However, the Falkirk striker is determined to strike fear into opposition defences right from kick-off this season and shake off the ‘super-sub’ tag he earned last term.
Whilst Falkirk and Hibs developed a bitter rivalry as the campaign wore on, McHugh was one figure the Easter Road side learned to hate the sight of.
A last-minute strike in April secured the Bairns a stunning 2-2 draw that effectively clinched second spot above their capital rivals.
Then, having netted the equaliser 10 minutes from time in the first-leg, the former Motherwell marksman popped up with virtually the last kick of the ball to spear in a dramatic winner in the second-leg of the teams’ astonishing play-off semi-final.
An injury-time winner against Rangers in March also helped McHugh build a name for himself as a match-winner from the bench.
However, the one-time Scotland under-19 cap is desperate to prove he can make as big an impact right from first whistle in the coming campaign.
He said: “There’s no better feeling in football than scoring winners in the last minute of the game, or important goals in the last minute.
“I managed to do that a number of times last season, so that was brilliant.
“I would be delighted if that’s the case again this season.
“But I’ll be hoping to get games from the start and hoping to make an impact in the first-half, as well as maybe late on in the second-half.
“Playing against Hibs has been good for me in the past.
“This is a fresh season now where I’m looking to keep that going.
“But, first and foremost, I’m hoping to get myself in the team and keep myself in the team.
“As a striker, you need to be scoring goals to be doing that, so that’s what I’m hoping to do.
“It doesn’t matter how they go in or who they go in against, I’ll just be trying to get the ball into the back of the net.”
Clashes between Hibs and Falkirk – and the hype surrounding them – helped develop an ill-natured hostility between the two squads and managers at times last season.
But McHugh would not have it any other way, because it will mean Falkirk are back up there jostling for the title and the automatic promotion place that has been made Hibs’ number one target.
He added: “That (niggle) just comes along with how neck and neck the league was last season. We were obviously both fighting for that second spot and we managed to nick it and also went through in the play-offs.
“But Hibs finished the season strongly with the cup, so we both had good seasons and the aim this year will be promotion for both teams.
“Hopefully it will be another close season between both teams.”