Alan Stubbs is hoping the confidence Hibs have built up in recent weeks will improve their chances of putting the smaller clubs in the Championship “to the sword”.
The Easter Road side are buoyed by a seven-game sequence in which they haven’t lost in general play, with wins over Ross County and Rangers and draws against Hearts and Dundee United (before losing on penalties) particularly creditable. However, the two obvious blemishes within that run were home draws against Raith Rovers and Dumbarton in the immediate aftermath of the 3-1 victory at Ibrox.
Hibs have generally struggled this season against sides they are expected to beat, and this month they face three such opponents in quick succession with next weekend’s trip to Cowdenbeath followed by a home game against Queen of the South and an away game against Dumbarton. Head coach Stubbs knows November’s games will provide a test of his side’s credentials as an improving team, but feels that a notable increase in confidence levels will stand them in good stead to deal with less-illustrious opponents who may choose to sit in and frustrate his side.
“Earlier in the season, because we weren’t as confident, we were maybe taking four, five or six touches before we saw a pass. Now we’re down to about two or three touches,” said Stubbs.
“Ideally I want to get it down to one or two touches before we see a pass, which will help us, and we will get there.
“The smaller clubs in the league have to work within their means, in terms of doing the best they can with the players they have.
“We in turn have to put those teams to the sword and play at our tempo and not be sucked into other teams’ styles.
“When your opponents have got ten men behind the ball, it can be difficult no matter what level you play at.
“In games like that, you may only get four or five chances to score, so you need to have that killer instinct.”
To that end, Stubbs senses that his main strikers, Dominique Malonga and Jason Cummings, are getting towards a level where they can start delivering the goals required to break the resistance of stuffy opponents on a more regular basis.
“Dominique is coming on to his game and Jason, in flashes, is getting better,” said the head coach.
“He’s still very young, so he’s going to be inconsistent, but he’s showing improvement.
“The whole squad is really coming on to their game.”