Central Park holds no Hibs fear – Alan Stubbs

Jimmy Nicholl, the manager of Cowdenbeath at Central Park, which also doubles as a stock car caring track. Pic: Jane Barlow
Jimmy Nicholl, the manager of Cowdenbeath at Central Park, which also doubles as a stock car caring track. Pic: Jane Barlow
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Alan Stubbs is confident his resurgent Hibs team will be strong enough to cope with the “unique” environment they will encounter at Cowdenbeath’s Central Park this Saturday.

The Easter Road side are unbeaten in their last five Championship matches as they prepare to visit the bottom-of-the-table Blue Brazil.

However, Central Park has proved an unwelcoming place for most visitors in recent times, with Cowdenbeath suffering only two league defeats there in the past ten months. Play-off hopefuls Falkirk and Queen of the South have already slipped up at the Fife ground this season.

With a compact pitch circled by a stock-car track, the most unglamorous venue in the Championship will offer a new challenge for many of the Hibs players.

However, Easter Road head coach Stubbs is confident that his team have enough in their armoury to ensure the surroundings do not knock them out of their stride.

“It’s about what you do on the football pitch, not what the ground’s like,” Stubbs told the Evening News. “Cowdenbeath are in this division on merit – we have to go to all different types of grounds and make sure we come away with a result. Cowdenbeath is unique in its own way because of the ground and everything it is, but we have to combat that and overcome it.

“We don’t always have to be on a big pitch to play to our best – if we have to we’ll adjust our style to deal with what we’ve got in front of us. It’s a tight pitch and the stadium’s a bit different, but we’re not going into the unknown. There will be no surprises and we’ll be ready for it.”

Stubbs has already seen how Cowdenbeath can be after they ran his team close at Easter Road in mid-September before eventually losing 3-2 in stoppage time. However, he and his staff will get a chance to see how Jimmy Nicholl’s team go about their business at home to more illustrious opponents when they take in their Central Park showdown with Rangers tonight.

“We had Cowdenbeath watched against Falkirk and we’ll have them watched tonight so we’ll be prepared,” said Stubbs. “As well as respecting the opposition, our main focus will be on what we can do and how we can effect the game.

“As Cowdenbeath showed at Easter Road, everybody on their day can put up a performance to make life difficult for you. We’ve got to start the game well, take the game to Cowdenbeath and grab the game by the scruff of the neck. We’ll be going there with a gameplan to try and win.”

Meanwhile, Stubbs, who has already missed out on signing Lewis Toshney and Paul Quinn, is still hoping to contract a new defender to bolster a squad which currently only has two fit centre-backs. “We’re still looking,” he said. “We’re exploring a few options.”