Alan Stubbs today insisted the shock defeat by Morton hasn’t changed Hibs’ target of winning promotion – even if it has made taking the Championship title more difficult.
The Easter Road outfit had been hoping to trim leaders Rangers’ advantage by winning their game in hand against the Greenock club but now have just 11 games in which to overhaul the eight-point lead Mark Warburton’s players still enjoy.
However, while admitting he would obviously rather see Hibs finish as champions which carries the one automatic promotion spot, Stubbs was adamant that goal can be achieved through the play-offs.
He said: “If you look at the last time we had a defeat, that probably tells you how well we’ve been doing. It’s two in 29 games. One defeat does not change what our targets are, it just makes if more difficult for us to achieve it as champions.”
Hibs, of course, are also fighting on two other fronts, a League Cup final place already booked and a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Inverness Caley to be played the
Sunday before that Hampden showdown with Ross County but Stubbs insisted the Capital club’s gruelling schedule of matches – tomorrow’s game will be their seventh in just 25 days – played no part in losing on Wednesday night.
Adamant the 3-0 loss was down to his side squandering opportunities to score and Jim Duffy’s players taking those which came their way, Stubbs said: “In the first 20 minutes the game could have been over if we had taken our chances, but we never. We were then guilty of conceding a couple of poor goals and when you do that, it makes it very difficult.
“Tiredness will not become an excuse. When you’re having lots of games those questions can be thrown at the team, but the team is not showing any signs of tiredness. My team did not play poorly, we just didn’t capitalise on our chances. If one of those early ones had gone in, then it would have been completely different.”
Dumbarton, of course, was the scene for a defeat on the opening day of the season for Hibs but while admitting tomorrow’s opposition may have enjoyed a boost from Morton’s win, Stubbs warned that his team have changed greatly since that day.
He said: “We are in a different place, we have improved since we first met them. It will still be a difficult game, there is no denying that. But people always say ‘Beware of the wounded animal’.”