Livingston boss Mark Burchill says he is looking to deepen Hibs’ woes tonight whilst steering his side off the bottom of the Championship with victory at the Energy Assets Arena.
The Lions are in the midst of a purple patch having gone three games unbeaten in the league since their resounding victory in the final of the Petrofac Training Cup over Alloa at the beginning of the month.
Back-to-back wins over Falkirk and Cowdenbeath, coupled with last Wednesday’s point picked up at home to Rangers, has instilled some renewed belief around West Lothian that Livi might just be on the verge of something special should they manage to avoid relegation to Scottish football’s third tier.
Having been plunged to the foot of the division in November after incurring a five-point deduction for tax irregularities, Livi have been made to look up ever since.
However, with tonight’s visitors Hibs having suffered Scottish Cup agony against Falkirk at Hampden on Saturday, Burchill has little sympathy for Alan Stubbs’ men and is targeting nothing less than three points and a win that would take his side above Alloa on goal difference.
“Not playing at the weekend there gave the players an opportunity to watch Hibs so we know exactly what to expect tonight,” Burchill told the Evening News. “Hibs are a very good side but I didn’t learn anything new about them if I am being honest from Saturday’s game. They’ve got a team full of very good players but were unfortunate to lose on the day. They deserved to win the match as Alan Stubbs has said, but we all know it’s about scoring goals so Falkirk will be saying they got their game-plan perfectly.
“We had this opportunity last week against Rangers where a win would have taken us off the bottom of the table. So that opportunity has come around again that if we do get the three points then we’re into ninth place and looking up the table. We’ve been at the bottom for such a long time but we’ve come into a bit of form and are just hoping we can carry that on.”
Livingston were denied a point when the sides met last month, a last-gasp winner from Hibs striker Franck Dja Djedje cancelling out Ibra Sekajja’s 88th-minute leveller after Jason Cummings’ strike had given the Hibees the advantage at the interval.
But revenge isn’t motivating Burchill as he insists his players have enough to contend with at this late stage of the season.
“It’s not about revenge for us,” he said. “For me, it’s about getting the three points to help us try and stay in the division. We’re focused on Livingston and it doesn’t matter who we’re playing as it’s about us trying to play the way we can and to get the win we need.
“The longer you concentrate on other teams the less you do on your own.
“I’ve said before that I don’t look at any of the other teams around us.
“We’ve got nine points to play for and that’s what I’m looking at us trying to get. You can only focus on what your own side is trying to do.
“Not having a game at the weekend has given our players more time to rest and recover from last week’s match against Rangers. We’ve also been able to work on a few things in training.”
Having had time to reflect over some shoddy decisions made by match official Greg Aitken during last week’s stalemate with Rangers – a perfectly legitimate goal from winger Myles Hippolyte after just seven minutes being the most glaring error – Burchill is hoping it is his group of players who take centre stage tonight.
“We’ve had some poor decisions lately,” he said.
“Having a penalty taken off us at Cowdenbeath the week before for no reason whatsoever was hard to take, but I’m not going to start moaning about referees.
“It is a very difficult job and is something I wouldn’t like to do – that’s for sure. But you’re just hoping at some point you get the rub of the green and we’ve not had that at all this season.”