Dylan McGeouch reckons Hibs’ impressive victory over Rangers at Ibrox will have made other Premiership teams sit up and take notice of Neil Lennon’s side.
But the midfielder admitted the win might also possibly make life a bit more difficult for him and his team-mates now they’ve alerted everyone to the threat they pose as newcomers to Scottish football’s top flight.
The visit of Hamilton tomorrow may appear a somewhat easier proposition than Govan last weekend but, argued McGeouch, it’s a match which has to be treated in exactly the same manner.
Accies boss Martin Canning, a former Hibs defender, has acknowledged that with the squad Lennon has assembled there’s no reason why his old club shouldn’t be challenging at the top end of the table.
However, as such, it will be up to him to devise a game plan to cope with a side which scored 11 goals in a week, five against Ayr United in the Betfred Cup, sandwiched between three each against Partick Thistle and Rangers.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that as such Canning, whose players salvaged their Premiership status with a play-off win against Dundee United, may be tempted to take the sort of cautious approach adopted by the majority of Championship teams visiting Easter Road last season, namely playing a game of frustration in sitting in and attempting to hit on the break.
However, McGeouch believes whatever tactics Canning decides upon, he and his team-mates can come up with the answers.
He said: “We can mix it. We have an edge to us in that we can stand up for ourselves if teams want to battle, but when we put our foot on the ball we can play. I think we showed that last week at Ibrox when they had that spell at the beginning of the match until we got on the ball, passed it and the game opened up for us. With 50,000 supporters on our backs, I think the team takes credit for that.
“I’m not sure what Hamilton might try to do but they will know we are at home, we’re going well and will come out of the traps with a lot of confidence behind us. But, having said that, Hamilton had a very good result of their own at Dens Park so they won’t be short on confidence either.”
The final 3-2 scoreline at Ibrox, allied to the fall-out which descended following Neil Lennon’s goal celebration, possibly detracted from what had been an impressive – particularly in the second half – performance by Hibs.
McGeouch, though, says being given little credit for the victory was of little consequence. “The headlines were always going to be about the stuff that was going on and not about our performance. But that was out of our hands.
“It wasn’t disappointing because we know how well we played and what a good result it was. Everything else didn’t really affect us. It was a marker to everyone. It was a big game; to go there and win in just the second game of the season having just come back into this league was a huge result.”
However, if the win at Ibrox, which followed another fightback to defeat Partick Thistle on the opening day of the season, may have surprised a few, McGeouch insisted it didn’t cause a stir amongst the squad, one which, a meaningless penalty shoot-out defeat against Ross County in the Betfred Cup aside, remains unbeaten thus far.
He said: “I don’t think we feel we have surpassed our hopes. With the players we have in the squad we felt we were capable of winning the first two games and the cup match [against Ayr United]. We have that self belief about ourselves. We’ve gone a goal down to Partick and Rangers but fought back and scored a few ourselves. We’ve shown a determination to get back into games and when we get our foot on the ball we’ve played some good football. Against Partick, we perhaps got a bit nervous at the start, it being the first game back, but once we calmed ourselves down we were fine; the same against Rangers. They’ve been two massive results.”
Hamilton, of course, were ultimately responsible for consigning Hibs to the Championship, the Easter Road club having gone into freefall under Terry Butcher but, insisted McGeouch, the fact tomorrow’s clash is the first between the clubs since will have no bearing.
“Honestly, it’s not been mentioned,” he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t here at the time but we know a club like Hibs should not have been in that position in the first place. Now, though, the focus is on keeping this run going and taking the points.”