Leigh GRIFFITHS today insisted he wasn’t going to beat himself up over the miss which could have left Hibs with a great opportunity to claim the Scottish Communities League Cup.
The Easter Road outfit were already a goal up, Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic turning Ivan Sproule’s low shot into his own net after just four minutes of last night’s quarter-final, when a sublime crossfield ball from Garry O’Connor left Griffiths with only Hoops goalkeeper Fraser Forster to beat.
But to the horror of the Hibs support, Griffiths took a poor touch and Forster managed to block his shot, his save proving vital as Celtic then blew Hibs aside with two goals from James Forrest, followed by strikes from Anthony Stokes and Gary Hooper.
Today Griffiths admitted he and his team-mates were well aware of the chance they’d let slip from their grasp with Celtic rather than themselves now entering the semi-final draw along with SPL rivals Kilmarnock and First Division sides Falkirk and Ayr United. The Scotland Under-21 striker said: “It was a massive opportunity missed. Falkirk and Ayr had already caused two shocks by putting out Dundee United and St Mirren and we were trying to cause another but it didn’t happen.”
Griffiths admitted he’ll forever be left wondering what might have been had he managed to fire Hibs two up by half-time, his miss allowing Forrest to equalise less than two minutes of the second half, paving the way for a 4-1 Celtic victory.
He said: “I saw it again at half-time, it was a terrific ball from Garry.
“I tried to keep my composure but the ball bobbled and I took a heavy touch. These things happen in football and there’s nothing we can do about it, we are out of the Cup.
“I don’t know if going 2-0 ahead would have meant game over, but it would certainly have given us a great chance.”
That said, Griffiths insisted it was Hibs’ second-half performance which was their undoing, their misery compounded by winger Ivan Sproule being sent off 19 minutes from time after picking up two yellow cards.
By then, though, the damage had been done. On-loan Wolves star Griffiths said: “We talked at half-time about keeping a clean sheet for the first five or ten minutes of the second half but we could barely do it for 30 seconds.
“Celtic are a good team and when they went 2-1 in front you knew they were going to create more chances and they went on to get a third and a fourth.”
Now Griffiths and his team-mates face the daunting challenge of playing Celtic again on Saturday in the League – in Glasgow. But, he insisted, he’s already relishing the prospect saying: “We have to pick ourselves up.
“Parkhead is a big occasion with 50,000 or so fans and a difficult place to go. But if we play as we did in the first half last night then hopefully we can get a positive result.
“I’m not going to beat myself up over last night’s chance. I look on it as having to be there to miss them so I’ll look forward to the next one, hopefully it comes on Saturday and I can put it away.”