Alan Stubbs today claimed he had been “perked up” rather than deflated by Hibs performance against Raith Rovers despite the Easter Road club suffering a second successive defeat.
Stubbs admitted he’d been left scratching his head throughout Saturday night and again on Sunday as he sought to work out how his side had managed to lose, having dominated the game to such an extent that, he revealed, even Raith boss Grant Murray and his backroom staff had struggled to explain their win.
Adamant the display at Stark’s Park was such he couldn’t criticise his players, the head coach said: “Sometimes you just have to look on it as one of those days and move on. When I walked into the coaches room afterwards you could sense the feeling of ‘how have we won that game’.
“At half-time one of their coaches, walking off the pitch with me, was saying to me ‘how good were you, we’d couldn’t get near you, you were unbelievable.’ For me that was a comfort. It was the best we have played in six weeks on that pitch and in conditions which were not easy.
“The players did everything I asked of them. I thought they performed really well, created a lots of chances and when you look back on it you think it was one of those games that no matter what we did it wasn’t to be.”
Although he admitted his side should have been more clinical in front of goal, Fraser Fyvie’s equaliser after Mark Stewart had stunned the travelling support by scoring against the run of play counting for nothing as Hibs fan Lewis Vaughan netted a late winner, Stubbs insisted: “It wasn’t for the lack of trying.
“David Gray hits the post and misses one at the back post, Dominique Malonga the bar and Sam Stanton had one taken off the line so I wouldn’t necessarily put it down to bad finishing, I think we’ve been a bit unlucky. David could have scored four and I don’t think he will mind me saying this, had those chances fallen to a midfielder or a striker then he scores at least one.
“But the fact he is in those positions is what I want.”
Back-to-back defeats have resulted in Hibs and Rangers now being neck-and-neck in the battle for second place, but Stubbs believes his they are ready for the run-in, predicting there will still be a few twists and turns to come in the remaining games.
He said: “It actually perked me up, the players playing so well and knowing they are in the right place. I know from speaking to them that they are ready for the end of the season.”
“It was a strange feeling to come away with nothing – it felt as if we had been robbed. But when the opposition manager finds it hard to say how they have won then that tells you everything. I’d rather be playing the way we did on Saturday coming to this stage of the season. If we had ten games left and we played that well then by the law of averages I’d could certainly say we’d win at least eight of them.
“We also have the small matter of a Scottish Cup semi-final so we have a really exciting end to the season coming up. For some people the glass is half-empty, for others it’s half-full. Mine is certainly half-full because it could be a great end to the season for us.”