Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has revealed how he gave his players a half-time rollicking despite the fact they were 3-1 up against St Mirren and well on their way to a 13th match undefeated.
Buddies defender Sean Kelly had shocked the Easter Road side with an early goal but Hibs were level within 90 seconds as Jason Cummings scored for the seventh game in succession before James Keatings struck twice before the interval and then went on to claim a hat-trick from the penalty spot.
However, while delighted with the response to going behind, Stubbs subjected his players to a “bit of a talking to” during the interval. He said: “I thought the start to the game was a bit low key, a little bit flat.
“We conceded too many corners early on for my liking. They had a couple of headers, not necessarily at goal, but they got on the end of them first but once they went 1-0 ahead I thought our response was really good. They got a bit of a rollicking at half-time because of our start. I do not think any of us are in the position to be letting teams get a 1-0 lead against us and then react – it’s hard enough as it is.”
Ultimately, though, Stubbs was singing the praises of his players, saying: “Whenever you concede, the most important thing is reaction. I think when I first came in the reaction might have been for the heads to go down, but today with the confidence they are playing with, the results they have had recently, the reaction was everything I hoped it would be.”
Hibs could quite easily have made it five before the interval, John McGinn – on his return to Paisley – cracking a shot off the bar while Liam Henderson forced Saints goalkeeper Jamie Langfield into a decent save. Stubbs said: “There was a period straight after we went 3-1 up where it looked as if we were going to really steamroller on and score another few goals but it was not to be. The second half was about being professional, keeping concentration because I felt with our pace on the counter and the quality we have we were always potentially going to get other chances. We just needed to make sure the back door was closed and that was the end of it and so it proved.”
With Hibs’ next match against Livingston at home not until next Tuesday, having been rearranged after Easter Road kids McGinn, Henderson and Cummings were called into the Scotland Under-21 squad for Friday’s European Championship qualifier against Ukraine, Stubbs has rewarded the rest of his players a three-day break which he believes has been well earned. He said: “The deserve so much credit for the games we have had and the profile of them. To come through all of them with maximum points is fantastic. The energy we have exerted and to come through with maximum points and get into the next round of the cup, I couldn’t ask anything more of the players.”
“They’ll get three days off to recover, then we start to prepare for Livingston.”