Hibs to treat Arbroath just like Celtic

Alan Stubbs

Alan Stubbs

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Alan Stubbs today revealed he plans to have Arbroath watched ten times before Hibs face the League Two leaders in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup, insisting: “We’ll treat them exactly like Celtic.”

While delighted to have the benefit of a home draw, the Easter Road head coach intends to build up as comprehensive a dossier on Allan Moore’s team as possible, starting with their match away to Elgin City tonight.

And, Stubbs disclosed, he intends to have someone from the club at every one of the Gayfield Park outfit’s matches between now and the beginning of February. He said: “We’re happy with a home tie but it is going to be a tough game.

“Arbroath are doing really well in their league, they are flying at the top of the table so we will treat them as if we were playing Celtic, that will definitely be the case. We’ll do our due diligence, have them watched and that’s the right way to go about it.

“By the time we play them we’ll have had someone at every game; we have to go into it thoroughly. We do that for every league game so the cup will be no different. I’ve said we are in it to win it and when the time comes the priority will be trying to get into the next round again.”

All of Arbroath’s matches over the next couple of months will take place on a Saturday, barring tonight’s trip to Borough Briggs, so that will all but rule out Stubbs spying on the Red Lichties as he attends to his own club’s games. But the Hibs boss believes he’ll know all he needs to know come February 7.

He said: “I’ve every confidence in my recruitment and scouting staff, what they’ve put together for me up to now has been impressive. A lot can change between now and February so watching them so often will let us see different formations, different players, how they play at home and away, how they react to certain situations and so on.

“People will say that this is the perfect tie but everyone at this stage deserves utmost respect. No matter who you are playing they are not to be under-estimated.”

Meanwhile, Stubbs disclosed Hibs won’t be appealing the red card shown to striker Dominique Malonga in the dying minutes of the 2-1 win against Alloa Athletic, the Congolese internationalist sent off after tangling with Wasps captain Ben Gordon.

As a result, the 25-year-old will miss this weekend’s Championship match at Falkirk and the Cup clash with Arbroath, although he could be with Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations at that time depending on how the Red Devils progress in the tournament in Equatorial Guinea.

The incident at the Indodrill Stadium escaped the attention of most onlookers, including referee Bobby Madden, who was alerted to it by his assistant

Stuart McMillan, but Stubbs insisted he could “categorically” state Malonga had not swung a punch as the official was reported to have claimed.

He said: “When you have done something wrong you have to take the punishment and move on. It was totally out of character for Dominique. If I was a betting man he’s the last man you’d have thought would have done that.

“He was very disappointed after the game. I’ve spoken to him, told him to learn from it and we’ve drawn a line under it. But I can categorically say he did not punch the boy which was the description from the official. There was contact, but it was not a fist.”