Hibs ready for Rangers as Jack Ross hails his team for continued fine form
Jack Ross basked in the glory of defeating St Johnstone to move one point behind cinch Premiership leaders Rangers ahead of the duo’s showdown at Ibrox next weekend.
A 61st-minute penalty by Martin Boyle gave Hibs a 1-0 win in a closely-fought contest at Easter Road, although there was some controversy about the award after Saints disputed the decision, claiming the ball struck Jamie McCart’s torso from close range rather than his hand.
McCart was later sent off by referee John Beaton and Hibs held on to remain unbeaten after seven league matches and gained a modicum of revenge over a foe who beat them in last season’s Scottish Cup final.
“We came out on the wrong end of quite a few of those last year against that particular opponent so the very obvious difference today was that we kept a clean sheet,” said Ross.
"I think that’s important against them, especially when you look at their recent results. They’re good at that and good at going ahead and shutting the opposition out. For us to maintain that and hope you get a moment of quality or fortune for the remainder of the game and that’s what we got.
The win sets Hibs up perfectly for next weekend’s top-of-the-table clash with Rangers, with Ross glad to have a full week for preparation ahead of such an important game following a gruelling schedule.
“All we can do is keep doing what we’re doing,” continued Ross. “We’re stretched a little bit at the moment, we have players out.
“We’ve had players who aren’t training, Kevin [Nisbet], Martin [Boyle], Kyle Magennis, Jake Doyle-Hayes has been suffering from the after effects of illness.
“We’re kind of just pulling it together and I do feel over the last week we have not been at our best performance wise.
“But we’ve dug out results and that’s growing as a group.
“And I’m excited about next week. We have a brilliant game to look forward to.
“To go into this game at that stage of the season as a top of the table clash is indicative of how we have grown as a team.
“The incentive is for us to beat the champions at home and go top, and it’s a brilliant incentive.
“It’s good to have the clear week, it will allow us to nurse some boys back to fitness hopefully and use the time properly for other players as well.”
Ross also had his say on the penalty award, which left the St Johnstone camp infuriated.
"I’ve watched it from our angle, which is a wide angle, so it’s quite far away,” added Ross.
"I think it does hit Jamie’s hand, I don’t think there is a lot he can do about considering the distance it’s hit from and the power that Martin hit it with.
"I would have too see it much closer up to see whether he makes his body bigger. You need to put balls in the box and commit bodies forward to get those types of opportunities so we’ll take it.”