Alan Stubbs believes Hibs are the team most will want to avoid in today’s Scottish Cup fifth-round draw after his side overcame the loss of a horror goal to dump Alloa Athletic.
Memories of the Capital club’s last visit to the Indodrill Stadium, a 2-1 defeat, must have flashed through the minds of the travelling supporters as goalkeeper Mark Oxley allowed a speculative shot from Wasps’ Daryll Meggatt to slip through his hands and into the net.
But Stubbs was delighted by his team’s response, goals from skipper Liam Craig and right-back David Gray enough to see them through even if the head coach was less than pleased by both their second-half performance and the late dismissal of striker Dominique Malonga following a flare-up with Alloa captain Ben Gordon.
Malonga will now miss Saturday’s trip to Falkirk and the next round of the cup although he could well be away playing in the African Cup of Nations with Congo at that time with Hibs unlikely to appeal the red card shown by referee Bobby Madden on the advice of his assistant Stuart McMillan.
Debate afterwards centred on whether Malonga had aimed a punch at his opponent – as McMillan was reported to have said – or a kick, but either way Stubbs insisted there was no excuse for his action.
“There’s been a coming together,” said Stubbs. “Dominique has gone to spin in behind the boy who was all over him, checking his run. I think he has made contact but it was a clip rather than a kick. But whatever it was, there’s no excuse for it and now we lose Dominique.”
The cup win, though, was Hibs’ sixth straight victory away from home, Stubbs players now unbeaten over 90 minutes in their last 11 matches, a record which the head coach believes will make potential opponents wary of his side as his dream of a Hampden final continues.
He said: “I entered this competition as a manager dreaming of getting to Hampden, why not? Someone has to get there and no disrespect to St Johnstone, who would have thought they’d get there last season?
“One thing for sure, there’s going to be two teams in the final, but which two?
“I’m sure there will be a few trials and tribulations along the way but the thing is that the way we are playing at this moment in time I do not think too many teams would like to play us and I don’t think many people would have been writing that four months ago.”
And given the turnaround in Hibs’ fortunes, Stubbs insisted he hadn’t been surprised in the slightest at the way his players reacted to the setback of losing that 15th minute goal.
He said: “You can’t contemplate something like that happening.
But it is a team sport, not an individual sport, and I thought the way we responded as a team was fantastic.
“I was asked if I was relieved. No, I’m happy, delighted we are in the next round. That was the most important thing.”