Chris Maxwell adamant Hibs can cause an upset at Hampden in Betfred Cup against Celtic
Goalkeeper says they must reach same level as in second half against Livingston - but for the whole game
There may be an air of trepidation among the Hibs supporters heading to Hampden on Saturday but goalkeeper Chris Maxwell is adamant there will be no negativity in his mind as he focuses solely on securing a place in the Betfred Cup final.
The Easter Road side have been written off as no-hopers ahead of this weekend’s showdown with Celtic after Wednesday’s 2-2 draw at home to Livingston made it ten games in a row without a Ladbrokes Premiership win and left Paul Heckingbottom’s team just a point off the bottom of the table at the onset of November.
Maxwell acknowledges the reasons for the sense of gloom around the club but he believes that if his team can apply themselves the way they did in the second half against the Lions – when they came back from 2-0 down to claim a point – then they can once again be a match for a Celtic side they drew 1-1 with at Easter Road five weeks ago.
“I refuse to be anything but positive,” he told the Evening News. “In the second half against Livingston we showed a lot of character and a load of fight. It looked like it meant something to us. The first half wasn’t good enough from anybody but we responded in the right way and were unlucky not to win the game. We’ve got to take that into the Celtic game now. We’ve got to make sure we do what we did in the second against Livingston.
“We’ve got to find that spirit and that character that we produced in the second half from the very first minute this weekend and continue it through the game. It’s as simple as that. We can’t keep talking about it though, we have to find it within ourselves to produce the spirit we showed in the second-half against Livingston for every minute of every match. There’s no excuses because we’ve proved to everybody we can do it. We’ve got ourselves in front numerous times this season so we’ve just got to have that bit of nous about us and be a bit more streetwise.”
For all their struggles to find a victory, Hibs haven’t lost any of their past six matches in all competitions. The draw against Neil Lennon’s side at the end of September, when they produced their best display of the season, kicked off a run of five consecutive Premiership draws. “We’ve proved against Celtic that we can give them a game,” Maxwell said. “In that match, we fought for every inch and put our bodies on the line and we’ve got to do that again. They’re a good team but as I’ve said before in different interviews, I believe we’ve got the quality to beat anybody in this league if we do the right things. But if we don’t do the right things, we’re vulnerable. I believe in this team and I refuse to be anything but positive.
“I know it’s going to sound stupid, but Wednesday was another game unbeaten. In fear of trying to make excuses, we lost a deflected goal against Livingston and another deflection against Ross County. Hopefully Livingston’s miss in the second half (when the Lions were 2-1 up) proves to be our turning point in terms of luck.”
Maxwell admits the players are feeling the strain as their search for an elusive victory continues but the on-loan Preston North End goalkeeper is steadfast in his belief that Hibs can cause an upset at Hampden. “It’s so frustrating for everybody,” he said of his team’s current predicament. “I feel for every single person at the club. The players are frustrated, the gaffer’s frustrated and the fans are frustrated. We all want to win and we all want to do do well.
“I hate losing. There is nothing I hate more in this life than losing so I refuse to accept that we’ll get beat. Any game, no matter who it’s against, I want to win and I’ll be fully focused on doing that against Celtic. I can imagine there’s nothing worse than getting to this stage of the competition and then losing. We’ve got to look towards getting a positive result and getting to the final.”
Maxwell, who helped Wrexham win the FA Trophy at Wembley via a penalty shootout in 2013, has started Hibs’ past seven matches since claiming the gloves from Ofir Marciano in September.
“Apart from six or eight months last season when I wasn’t playing, all I’ve ever known is playing week in, week out,” said the 29-year-old Welshman. “It doesn’t matter about anything else, I just want to be playing football regularly, enjoying it and winning games.”