Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today challenged his players to embark on another long unbeaten run after seeing an eight-game streak without a loss in the Championship ended by Falkirk.
An injury-time strike from defender David McCracken earned the Bairns a second win of the season over the Capital club, but now Stubbs is looking for a reaction from his side when they face Alloa Athletic at home on Saturday.
Although adamant there had been nothing in a game which he felt was heading for a goalless draw, Stubbs admitted it had been a below-par performance from his team, which was missing five key players in Dominique Malonga, Farid El Alagui, Dylan McGeouch, Jordon Forster and club captain Liam Craig.
The head coach said: “I think there were a number of things: we did not start the game with a real devilment of what we wanted to do. I thought Falkirk worked hard, tried to press and harry, but even when we got good possession our final ball was too slow or behind someone or not into the path to take it first time.
“It just did not click. We said at half-time they were not performing the way they do, but that they had to find a way to win when things were not going their way. It’s disappointing to have lost, of course, but we certainly did not deserve to lose a game where there was nothing in it.
“But the fact of the matter is that if you do not concentrate for 90 minutes plus you run the risk of teams getting an opportunity and that was the case.
The defeat means that Hibs missed not only the chance to draw level on points with third-placed Queen of the South, but to put clear water between themselves, Falkirk, Raith Rovers and Dumbarton, the three teams directly below them in the table.
However, Stubbs insisted the answer was to get back on the winning trail right away. He said: “The eight-game run is gone, so let’s start another one. It was going to come to an end somewhere along the line. I would have liked it to carry on, but that’s football.
“The most important thing now is how we react. I’d better get a reaction, the players are under no illusion as to what I expect. They have had plaudits, and rightly so, for what they have done but against Falkirk we dipped below the levels we have set ourselves.”
Losing at the Falkirk Stadium also ended Hibs’ hopes of a seventh successive away win, a record which has stood since the start of the 1964/65 season when an astonishing nine matches “on the road” were won when the Easter Road club lifted the Summer Cup by beating Aberdeen at Pittodrie in a replay of the final delayed by a typhoid epidemic in the Granite City.
Stubbs, though, insisted: “I’m more interested in our performance than a record, to be honest.”