Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs today backed Dominique Malonga to bounce back from his penalty miss in the 0-0 draw against Dumbarton, saying that the striker had nothing to be disappointed about because he had actually “scored” from the spot.
The Easter Road club dropped further points in the race for promotion from the Championship as Saturday’s stalemate, coupled with Hearts’ win over Alloa, left the Jambos 14 points clear at the top of the table from their fifth-placed Capital rivals. However, Hibs were left with a sense of injustice after Malonga’s 40th-minute penalty crossed the line after squeezing under keeper Danny Rogers’ body, only for referee Barry Cook and his assistant to wave play on rather than signal for a goal.
Even Ian Murray, the Dumbarton manager, revealed in his post-match press duties that the ball had crossed the line and that his players had admitted just as much, while Stubbs was left to lament the performance of Cook, who had a poor game throughout.
“Dominique will be disappointed, like every one of the players, but that’s what happens,” Stubbs told the Evening News. “He was the hero a few weeks ago when he took the penalty against Cowdenbeath to help us win the game. It is the other side of taking penalties. He has to just get on with it. To be honest though, he hasn’t missed – he’s scored! – so he’s got nothing to be disappointed about. The only thing he should be disappointed about is the decision not to award the goal.”
After the miss, Hibs kept on dominating the match rather than let their heads go down and only some smart saves from Republic of Ireland Under-21 keeper Rogers, who is on loan from Aberdeen, and poor finishing denied Hibs all three points.
“We couldn’t dwell on the penalty miss for too long,” continued Stubbs. “Yes, we were disappointed, but you have to move on, because the disappointment can linger and, before you know it, they could have broken on the counter – on the very rare occasions that they did – and could have got an unjust reward from the game. So I thought the concentration of the players was good. The positive is obviously that it’s a clean sheet, but I think anybody who was in the stadium will admit that there was only one team here to get a result.
“There are positives, but we want to be higher than we are. We want to be closer to Hearts than we are, but the players have adapted really well and I’m not going to criticise them for what they tried to do, because one, it would be wrong, and two, they are not far away from clicking. I’ve said all along that football is about small margins, thin dividing lines, and early on in the season, there was a possibility that, on other performances, other teams might have snatched a 1-0 against us, with us dominating so much. But one thing that I thought we did is that they tried to put us under and we coped really well we dealt well with the aerial bombardment.”
Stubbs also revealed that he still wants to bring Paul Quinn to the club. The former Motherwell and Doncaster right-back has been training with the club and Stubbs is keen to reinforce his squad with the 29-year-old.
“We are still interested and we’ll look to see if we can get it over the line, see if we can come to some agreement, and take it from there,” he said.