It’s not all about Cup luck – Hibs had the toughest of ties against Dundee United

...and Jack Ross has to take a lot of praise for negotiating a hard run of games

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 4:45 pm

The luck of the draw undoubtedly plays a part in cup football and there will be those who say we’ve been very fortunate to find ourselves coming up against BSC Glasgow of the Lowland League having seen off Dundee United.

That’s fair enough comment, but it overlooks the fact that Hibs had the toughest draw of any of the Premiership sides in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup - an away tie against United who are a top-flight team in waiting.

We should have won at Tannadice and avoided the need for a replay and going behind to yet another Lawrence Shankland goal certainly tested the character of the players.

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But they came through that well, showing great determination and in the end the result was fully deserved. It capped off a decent week for the club, coming from behind to beat Hamilton, going away to Motherwell who are doing very well this season and getting a draw and now a place in the last 16 of the Scottish Cup with obvious high hopes of making further progress.

The players deserve credit but for me Jack Ross has to take a lot of praise for the way he’s handled four matches in the space of just ten days and the fact he has done so with a depleted squad. Losing three key players in Ryan Porteous, Stevie Mallan and Jason Naismith, speaks volumes for the job he has done.

Having so few players at his disposal will have made shuffling the squad difficult but the head coach has changed things around, both in terms of personnel and in the formations he has played.

Following the draw at Tannadice a win at home against Hamilton was expected but sometimes these can be among the most difficult matches, especially when you go behind.

Things weren’t working but Jack, as well as a few harsh words at half-times, made substitutions, switched things around and got the result. At Motherwell it was, on the face of it, a 4-4-2 formation but one which quickly became 4-2-4 with Martin Boyle and Daryl Horgan pushing high up on the flanks. And on Tuesday night it was a 4-2-3-1 which latterly switched to a 4-4-2, again highlighting the adaptability and flexibility of the players. I’ve always been a great believer in being able to change not only from game to game but within any given 90 minutes. Opposition sides quickly learn how you play so the more surprises you can spring on them the better.

It won’t surprise anyone that, as a wide player myself, I love to see wingers in action. In the modern game it’s more about wing backs but I still think wide players can produce something different. As Boyle and Horgan have proved, there’s nothing a defender hates more than someone taking him the other way.