ALAN STUBBS believes Hibs now possess the quality and know-how to break down stuffy visitors to Easter Road.
The Edinburgh side occasionally struggled to make their possession count against defensive-minded teams last season, particularly before the turn of the year. However, as they prepare to host part-time Dumbarton on Saturday, Stubbs believes his team, who have won 15 of their last 21 league games over the last eight months, are now better equipped to deal with opponents who adopt stifling tactics.
“For many teams coming to Easter Road, getting a draw is like winning the game for them, so they come with the mindset of trying to stay in the game,” the head coach told the Evening News. “But, if they lose the first goal, that’s when it becomes a problem for them. For us to get an early goal, it often changes the dynamic of the game.
“Our aim is to score early goals because it forces the opposition to do something about. But, if it doesn’t happen early on, you’ve got to be patient, and we’ve generally been good at that. We’ve got good players, and when that is the case, it is usually easier to break teams down.”
Dumbarton ended a run of seven games without a win when they beat Livingston in their last outing. Stubbs is expecting a cautious approach from the Sons when they arrive at Easter Road.
“I think Dumbarton will come and sit in so we’ve got to be good enough to break them down,” he said. “They had a decent start, then they had a dip in terms of results, but they’ve picked up again lately. We know exactly what we’re in for.”
Dumbarton beat Hibs 2-1 on the opening day of the Championship season at a time when the Easter Road were engulfed by the Scott Allan transfer saga. In the intervening period, the Easter Road side have added several new faces and have won seven out of nine games and conceded only two goals. Stubbs believes his team are in significantly better fettle than they last faced the Sons two-and-a-half months ago.
“Apart from the first game of the season, I think our performances have been very consistent,” he said. “I know why that performance happened. It’s no coincidence that we haven’t performed like that since the first day. Our performances have been of a much higher quality and standard since then.”
Stubbs believes the international break will have benefitted his team as they bid to maintain their consistency. “Our form before the break was good,” he said. “The break has given us a really good opportunity to bring players back into the squad. We went into the break in good shape but we’re coming out of it in even better shape.”