One nil will do at Indodrill for Hibernian

Lewis Stevenson admits that Hibs were not at their best against Livingston but they still managed to dig out a victory

Lewis Stevenson admits that Hibs were not at their best against Livingston but they still managed to dig out a victory

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Rangers put four past them and Falkirk another five, but tomorrow Lewis Stevenson will happily settle for a 1-0 win over Championship basement side Alloa Athletic.

Having closed the gap on leaders Rangers to just two points – albeit the Ibrox club have a game in hand – Hibs defender Stevenson insisted winning “no matter what” far outweighs how many goals are scored.

Nevertheless, having helped Alan Stubbs’ side clock up an impressive run of 14 matches without defeat – 13 of them victories including Rangers and League Cup triumphs over Premiership outfits Aberdeen and Dundee United – Stevenson is aware Hibs fans will travel to the Indodrill Stadium salivating at the prospect of a goals fest.

The defender, though, is more pragmatic, adamant that while he and his team-mates love nothing more than turning on the style as they have done on numerous occasions already this season, securing another three points is all that matters as Hibs seek to continue keeping the heat on Rangers who, it must be remembered, were being tipped to all but disappear over the horizon with a potential lead of 11 points ahead of their visit to Easter Road at the beginning of the month.

That the gap has narrowed so dramatically is testament to the single-minded attitude Stubbs and his players have adopted, Stevenson having eyes only on a potentially tricky encounter on Alloa’s notorious plastic surface rather than allowing his attention to wander as to what the Glasgow club may or may not be doing.

Stevenson, Hibs’ longest serving player and inching ever closer to a 300th appearance in the green and white, said: “We want to play well, score in as many games as possible and keep clean sheets. But at the end of the day it’s not always going to be like that. There are teams in this league who can cause problems and we only have to look back at last season when Alloa beat us on their own ground.

“Okay, their results haven’t been great recently but they have some good players so we won’t be underestimating them. We know it will be a tough game and I’d happily take a 1-0 win at this moment. But we’ll have to play better than we did against Livingston even though we won the game.

“We didn’t play well enough, we made a few mistakes which caused us problems and for that we only have ourselves to blame. Livingston, fair play to them, were the better team in the first half. However, we got the win and we were happy with that; you win by whatever means you can.”

That said, though, Stevenson agreed Hibs’ squad contains enough firepower to overcome those days when they are, perhaps, not quite firing on all cylinders, the victory over Livingston achieved without man-of-the-moment Jason Cummings finding the net for the first time in eight games.

Never mind, there was James Keatings with a double to add to his treble against St Mirren, the little hitman just missing out on becoming the first Hibs player to score back-to-back hat-tricks since Joe McBride did so, following up four goals against Lokomotiv Leipzig with three more against Morton 47 years ago.

Stevenson said: “Jason had a few chances but while his all-round play was pretty good, they just didn’t fall for him. He’s been on an unbelievable run, seven games for us and another with Scotland’s Under-21s and, being a confident boy, I’m sure it’ll be no time before he bounces back with another.

“Keats has been fantastic these last couple of games. five in two, and when you have players like him and Jason in the side you always feel you are going to get a goal sooner rather than later.”

Bad news, then, for Wasps goalkeeper Andy McNeil, a long time friend of Stevenson given they were youngsters together as Hibs lifted the League Cup in 2007 although the Hibs star insisted there won’t be any room for sentiment tomorrow. He said: “Andy and I are good pals. He was brilliant that day at Hampden, he’s always been a really fit guy and he’s a goalkeeper capable of pulling off great saves and I’m sure he’d love to be being doing that tomorrow. I’ve kept in touch with him although it was a bit difficult when he moved to New Zealand for a year.

“I see him here and there, he was living just across from the stadium at one point so I bumped into him a few times. It’ll be good to see him but hopefully he doesn’t have one of those days goalkeepers enjoy. I know Alloa have lost a few goals recently but I can’t imagine that’s his fault. You just don’t blame the goalie when you are losing goals, it’s a team game and I know when we concede we don’t go pointing fingers.”

There’s been something of a war of words going on between Hibs and Rangers over the course of the past week or so, Ibrox boss Mark Warburton hitting out at Stubbs’ claim his budget is far greater than that on offer in the Capital while Andy Halliday queried whether Stevenson and his team-mates enjoyed the same character and nerve possessed by those in Govan.

Stevenson, though, refused to become embroiled, insisting: “I can’t speak for Rangers. We just concentrate on ourselves. We’re on a good run and we want to make sure we keep that going. And I’d imagine that if we have another spell of 14 matches without defeat then we’ll be doing all right.

“It’s been pretty good, but we’re just aiming to keep it going week by week, game by game and not get ahead of ourselves.”