Thursday, August 18, 2022
SportHibsLewis Stevenson insists there are two sides to Hibs - and they...

Lewis Stevenson insists there are two sides to Hibs – and they intend to show it against Hearts


Lewis Stevenson insists there are two sides to Hibernian, and they intend to show it in Wednesday’s Scottish Cup fifth round replay against Hearts.

On a threadbare Tynecastle pitch that was not conducive to free-flowing football, the Championship leaders rolled up their sleeves and made sure they did not come off second best in the physical challenge during last Sunday’s feisty goal-less clash.

The cup holders have been accused of being bullied in this fixture in the past, while head coach Neil Lennon claimed there was a ‘psychological shift’ between the sworn Edinburgh enemies following the match.

The replay is expected to be a completely different affair but long-serving defender Stevenson insists versatile Hibs can defy the gap and win the tie by outplaying their Premiership rivals.

“I think the derbies have changed a lot, especially this year,” noted Stevenson.

“I think we’ve got in a few more physical players and I think we matched them in that aspect, and I’m sure we will do it again.

“If it becomes more of a football match, we’ve still got the players that can go and play football as well. We’re prepared for all manner of games.

“I think both teams would probably be disappointed about how they played.

“I don’t think we played the way we wanted to. The pitch wasn’t great but I’m sure the surface at Easter Road will be a bit better and it will probably suit both teams.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a very different game of football and hopefully one that football gets a chance to show.”

Last weekend’s derby will not go down as a classic but Stevenson insists the fear of making a mistake on a badly cut-up pitch outbalanced any desire to be adventurous going forward.

Hearts created the only meaningful chance after three minutes when Esmael Goncalves had a shot saved from close range in a game where defences came out on top.

Stevenson, who won the League Cup with Hibs in 2007, added: “The pitch was tough to play on, it was a bit uneven and nobody wanted to take chances or wanted to be the one remembered for playing a square ball and losing it.

“Nobody was taking chances but both teams could have been a bit braver and played a bit more.

“It’s hard for groundsman. I can’t speak for him but I’m sure they don’t really get the budget they’re supposed to get, then there’s the weather not being great in Scotland.”

Hibs can stretch their unbeaten run in the derby to seven matches if they set up a quarter-final clash with Ayr United on Wednesday but the defender reckons that record will not having any bearing on the Hearts players, especially since nine of them joined last month.

Stevenson was part of a Hibs side that failed to win the fixture in 12 matches between 2010 and 2012 and insists a barren run can prey on your mind.

He added:  “I’ve been on the other end of that of going on a long run without beating them, the pressure does mount up – more so when you’re going that way.

“But they’ve got a lot of new players and I’m sure a lot of them don’t even know that’s the case.

“It probably doesn’t matter in this case but I feel confident. It’s a one-off game, you are always confident with the players we’ve got that we can go and win a game.”

Stevenson made his first derby appearance in April 2007 in a 1-0 defeat and insists he is now far more relaxed than he used to be heading into tussles against Hearts.
Bragging rights will again be at stake on Wednesday when a crowd of over 20,000 descends on Easter Road but the 29-year-old insists he will be able to blank out the enormity of the occasion.
He added: “I enjoy the games now more than I ever did, I used to get too nervous before when I was younger but I can enjoy the occasion now.
“The build up before it, I probably couldn’t sleep for the week before, now it’s probably just the night before.
“Now it’s probably more excitement rather than apprehension.
“You don’t get bored of them and there is probably still the same buzz from the first one. There’s a lot of pressure and when your win they’re the best but when you lose them they’re the worst.
“As soon as the game starts it does just feel like a normal game. You can’t get too carried away being a derby or your’ll end up doing something daft and get sent off.
“You have to be level headed and hopefully the game takes care of itself. There are the usual flare ups but you probably notice it’s a derby more during stoppages in play.”

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