ALAN STUBBS today insisted there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to dream of Scottish Cup glory as the Easter Road club once again bid to end their century-long quest to get their hands on the trophy.
But, he admitted, his side will have to overcome a tricky first match in the competition if Hampden in May was to be their ultimate destination, Hibs travelling to Alloa Athletic’s Indodrill Stadium, where they tasted defeat in August.
Stubbs, however, firmly believes the Wasps will face an entirely different proposition this time round with Hibs having strung together an eight-match unbeaten run, which has sent confidence soaring and changed the perception many had of the Capital club.
And with five all-Premiership ties in the fourth round while Hearts face Celtic and Rangers take on Kilmarnock, Hibs could, depending on how the draws for subsequent rounds pan out, emerge as one of the competition’s dark horses – provided they don’t fall at the first hurdle.
Stubbs said: “As far as I am concerned, it’s just a different format of the game – one that we want to do really well in. We have seen on our day that we are a decent team and I don’t think where we are at the
moment is where we are going to end up, because it’s a work in progress.
“It would be nice to do well in the cup. You have to start off competitions dreaming of getting to the final, otherwise there’s no point being in it in the first place. We would love to get to Hampden and play in a final, but to do that we’d have to get through some sticky draws along the way, and Saturday is certainly going to be one of them.
“Rarely do you find in a cup competition that you have four or five home draws, that they all fall kindly for you. Saturday will be tricky, but we are confident of getting a result at Alloa.”
However, while Hampden may be a distant dream, Stubbs can point to decent performances in the other two cups, Hibs beaten in extra-time by Rangers at Ibrox in the Petrofac Cup in their first game of the season, and losing in a sudden-death penalty shoot-out against Dundee United in the League Cup, having put out another Premiership side, Ross County, in the previous round.
He said: “I think with the way we play, people would look at us as probably a decent cup side. On our day I think we are a match for anyone, and when you have that in your armoury, you have a better percentage of going further in the cup.”
Stubbs insisted, though, that his focus goes no further than this weekend, having taken in Alloa’s 4-0 crushing of Ayr United in the previous round’s replay in Clackmannanshire, while well aware of Wasps’ striker Liam Buchanan having scored in each of his last seven games, a club record.
He said: “Alloa had too much for Ayr, who couldn’t cope with their movement and players in the final third. We are going to have to be on our mettle to keep them quiet. Alloa have beaten us once this season, and will be confident of trying to cause an upset – but I have to say I am in control of a different side now.
“I feel we have come a long way. I don’t want to speak too soon, but we seem to have stepped up in every aspect of what we have asked of them. We are getting the rewards at this moment, not just on the pitch but off it, where the boys have been working really hard on things like strength and conditioning.”