SATURDAY’S win at Ross County may not have been easy on the eye at times, but, as with any cup competition, the objective is to come through the tie and make sure your name is in the hat for the next round.
There are sure to have been a host of clubs who played well at the weekend, but found themselves out of the competition.
Watching the draw unfold is always exciting for supporters, particularly when it’s the Scottish Cup. However, Saturday’s victory up at Dingwall was Terry Butcher’s first as manager of Hibs – at a venue we have also struggled at in recent seasons. It is now up to the players who have been handed their places in the starting XI to ensure this is exactly where they stay by managing to put two or three wins together and finding a bit of consistency. The joy etched on the manager’s face at full-time was there for all to see in what was a big win for the club. The large band of Hibs fans gathered behind the goal were in good voice throughout the match and I commend those for making the journey north and showing their support to the team. The sending off of Paul Cairney did not deter the side from staying resilient until the final minute and that will also have pleased the manager immensely. This is the steel and determination we expect from those in green and white and it will take this level of performance to lift us to a more healthy position in the league. The early signs have been encouraging I must say.
A home draw in the next round is, of course, most favourable but I think Saturday’s result has proved we can compete and grind out wins on the road. We are only too aware that our home form is patchy to say the least, so another away tie may just suit the players.
I was also pleased for young Danny Handling, who scored the only goal of the match to send us through. He has shown his willingness to harass defenders and he was in the right position at the right time to slot away Liam Craig’s astute pass.
The last two fixtures have shown that opposing sides are going to have to work a lot harder for their rewards as it isn’t going to be handed to them on a plate. Restoring a winning mentality within the club will have been high on Terry Butcher’s agenda and a win on Saturday may have arrived a little sooner than he envisaged given our recent history there.
I expect over the next couple of weeks for one or two of the squad to start showing their true ability as the confidence begins to grow within the camp – there is, after all, nothing like a Scottish Cup win to lift the spirits and erase the gloom.
The training complex, for a start, will feel a much more positive place to be around and I just hope this begins to rub off on a Saturday.
On the flip side, one or two have already experienced the wrath of the new manager, but I welcome this hard-hitting approach as for far too long the players at Easter Road have ruled the roost I’m afraid to say. I, myself, know that this will simply not be tolerated by Terry Butcher, or Maurice Malpas for that matter.
Issues such as discipline can sometimes make all the difference at a football club, as without it, you will achieve nothing. Making sure everyone knows what is expected of them both on and off the field has always got to be a priority.
We have a great opportunity to get our first league win on Saturday under the new manager when we play host to Partick Thistle. Three points is a must if we are to start moving away from the lower depths of the table before the busy Christmas schedule creeps up upon us.