Mark Oxley stressed that there is no chance of Hibs treating Rangers lightly as he knows it may only take an away win at Easter Road tomorrow to swing the battle for second place back in the Ibrox side’s favour.
In less than four months, Hibs have gone from ten points behind Rangers to six ahead of them. The Hibees have won each of their last seven games in all competitions, while Rangers have won only one of their last nine.
With less than two months of the regulation league campaign remaining, Hibs clearly have all the momentum, while their rivals, now under the charge of Stuart McCall, are unable to extricate themselves from their on-field malaise. Goalkeeper Oxley, whose early weeks at Easter Road were marred by a run of four league defeats in six games, knows it could take just one significant victory to turn things Rangers way.
“They might just need one big result – that’s how football is,” he said. “If you treat games with complacency, it will come back and bite you on the bum. We’ve not been playing as well as we’d like to in recent weeks, but that’s the sign of a good squad – when you’re picking up results and you’re not playing well.
“At the beginning of the season, we were a bit naive going into games, thinking we could just turn up and hopefully get a result even if we didn’t play well. That’s why you can’t go into games thinking we have beat them 9-1 in the past (ie on aggregate v Rangers this season). We’ll be going into the game treating it like any other.” Hibs will tomorrow bid to make it a clean sweep of four league wins over Rangers this season, a run which would stand the Edinburgh side in good stead in the possible event that the two teams will be reunited in the play-offs. “It would give us a psychological boost if we could beat them again,” said Oxley. “We are lucky to have had some good results, but it all goes out the window. You see all along in football, bookies have their favourites and it doesn’t mean anything.
“I’ve been watching football all my life. You back a team in a play-off and something crazy happens. So you can say we are favourites all you like but we’ll not be treating it like that.”
Oxley insists he never had any second thoughts after joining Hibs on loan from Hull despite an underwhelming start to the season. “We’ve come a long way since then,” he said. “You can’t really compare the results we were getting at the beginning of the season to where we are now. We have progressed as a club and as a squad, learning each week. We’re looking to take that forward into the latter part of the season.
“I knew what the club was about, the gaffer’s ideas and where he wanted to take us. From day one, I bought into what he was trying to do straight away. As the season has progressed, you can see how the lads have bought into it as well. The squad he has put together is fantastic for this level. I think that’s why we’re reaping the rewards we’re getting.”
The rewards that remain on offer to Hibs this season are Scottish Cup glory and promotion back to the Premiership from an exceptionally strong Championship.
“It could be the most memorable season of my career and I hope it will be,” said Oxley. “But we can’t be looking at it being a memorable season yet. It will only be memorable if we do what we set out to achieve.
“That’s why we have to treat every game with the utmost importance. If we don’t, it won’t be a memorable season. We’ve got to stay grounded. We have been doing well, but it will have been for no reason if we don’t do well in the last few games. We’re just trying to keep the run going, keep our heads down and stay under the radar. If we keep doing what we’re doing, I’m sure we won’t be far wrong.”