Mark Oxley today set his sights on snatching second place in the Championship table from Rangers with a win over Raith Rovers after Hibs slashed the gap on the Glasgow club to just two points with a first victory of the season against Queen of the South.
Goals from Dylan McGeouch, via the penalty spot, and Scott Robertson, the midfielder scoring his third goal in five games, saw Alan Stubbs’ side take full advantage of Rangers’ match at Cowdenbeath being hit by the weather just as they had done the previous weekend against the Blue Brazil after Ibrox was engulfed by a snowstorm as they prepared to face leaders Hearts.
Now, with Rangers playing arch-rivals Celtic in the semi-final of the League Cup this weekend, Oxley and his team-mates have the chance to overhaul the troubled Govan club before they themselves head for Ibrox with, hopefully, the opportunity to turn up the heat even further.
The Easter Road goalkeeper said: “We knew the Rangers game was off and we made the most of that again. Now we can go above them by beating Raith and, at the moment, that’s all we are looking at. Even if we do overtake them we know they’ll have games in hand but the pressure will be on Rangers to win them and one of them is against Hearts.
“However, it’s all about giving ourselves the best chance possible. This weekend is a big one, but we are coming into the crunch period of the season and no game is bigger than any other.”
Hearts’ surprise defeat by Falkirk at Tynecastle pushed Hibs closer to their Capital neighbours. Hibs have lost just once in their last 16 league matches, a statistic Oxley believes will have been missed by many. He said: “We’ve been happy to fly under the radar as it were.
“Earlier in the season people were talking about us for the wrong reasons, not picking up the results we should have. The manager said to stick with it, there was a big transition from last season.
“But it’s our job to keep doing what we are doing and to get the club back to where it belongs. The manager has said all along that people can talk about Hearts and Rangers all they want, that we should just concentrate on ourselves, to keep believing in what we were doing and the rewards would come.
“I think the lads are buying into that more now than at any time. We’re probably where we should have been from the start of the season.”
Oxley admitted beating Queen of the South was paramount, Hibs having found previous games against the Dumfries outfit and Falkirk, two play-off rivals, difficult, with only two points out of 15 having been taken.
He said: “It was a very important match especially after what happened against Falkirk. Queens had picked up some decent results against us so there was a lot of emphasis on winning. The first half wasn’t up to standard but we kept believing, the chances came and we took them.”