Mark Oxley admits he had mixed emotions at Hampden as he watched Falkirk’s Jamie MacDonald throw himself full length to get the merest of touches on Fraser Fyvie’s shot and divert it onto the post, the goalkeeper then enjoying a slice of luck as the ball bounced back into his grateful arms.
Hibs goalkeeper Oxley watched MacDonald’s heroics as the two teams battled it out for a place in the final of the Scottish Cup.
But as a fully-paid-up member of the “goalkeepers’ union” he could also applaud the save, one of several made by the ex-Hearts No.1, which provided the platform for team-mate Craig Sibbald to deliver a sucker punch and end Hibs’ Scotttish Cup dream for yet another year.
As he prepared to face Falkirk for a fifth and final time today – the Bairns boasting a proud record of three wins and a draw against Alan Stubbs’ side – Oxley said: “It was gutting, especially when it kept happening throughout the game. I think we threw everything but the kitchen sink at them that day, there was that one that hit the post, another shot came off the crossbar and it just didn’t happen for us.
“To be fair to Jamie he made some great saves but when you bring off the one he did from Fraser you know your luck is in. Sometimes you need that as a goalkeeper. It’s easy just to leave shots where you think you don’t have a chance of getting there but he threw everything at it, that’s all you can do. I’m sure he’d be the first to admit he had a bit of luck. He played well, I told him ‘well done’ at the end of the game. He’s been very consistent every time we have played them this season but I think, had it not been for him, we would probably have won although we should also have been more clinical in front of goal and not given him a chance to make those saves.”
Victory at the Falkirk Stadium today would clinch second place in the Championship for Hibs and with it a less strenuous play-off programme. But while he admitted he would happily accept any sort of goal that proves to be the winner, Oxley would hate it to be the result of a mistake from MacDonald.
He said: “Obviously you’d be happy with a goal no matter how it comes. When you see an opposition goalkeeper make blunder you do feel for him because you know it could well be you somewhere down the line. I’d much rather see one of our guys put it into the top corner and not give him a sniff of it.”
As much as the semi-final defeat hurt, Hibs have bounced back with convincing wins against Dumbarton and Alloa Athletic which, combined with Rangers dropping two points as they battled back for a draw against Falkirk last weekend, has put them in pole position for second place, a win against the Bairns rendering the result from Tynecastle, where the Ibrox side will be facing champions Hearts, irrelevant. And although Hibs haven’t enjoyed the best of records against Peter Houston’s men this season, they are confident of redressing the balance.
Oxley said: “It’s ironic that we couldn’t buy a goal at Hampden that day only to score seven in our next two games. But that’s football.
“The lads are buzzing after the last couple of games, at this stage of the season they are all big matches. Everyone knows the situation in regard to Falkirk this season. To be fair to them they have got the results but in most games we have been better than them.
“However, it’s all very well being the better side but we have to go there and use these experiences from previous games and make sure we come away with a positive result.”
A travelling support of 3500 will undoubtedly keep Oxley and co up to date with events in Gorgie but, the 24-year-old says they can’t allow anything to distract them.
He said: “We heard it last week from them when Rangers were two down to Falkirk but we have to concentrate. If you start listening to other stuff it can take your mind off the game. We’re going into it totally focused and in a positive frame of mind. We know it is in our hands. If we win there’s nothing Rangers can do. We know we are capable of getting the result we want, if it goes wrong we only have ourselves to blame.”