Matt Macey on hungry Hibs, winning his first competitive shoot-out and why he didn't enjoy extra-time
Matt Macey did not feature in either of Hibs’ most recent Hampden appearances but the former Arsenal keeper knows the impact those defeats have had on the men he shares a dressing room with.
And, having flirted with more disappointment against Motherwell on Saturday, the fact they showed the required resolve to see out the win and progress to the club’s seventh Scottish Cup semi final in the past decade, illustrates just how focused they are on going even further when they return to the national stadium in less than two weeks.
Two goals ahead and dominating possession, Hibs looked like they would be cruising through but with two minutes of the match remaining they somehow found themselves level with a Motherwell team who had snatched the momentum and facing the nervy issue of extra time and then penalties.
For a goalkeeper who has been handed the starting berth throughout the cup campaign, and has been determined to prove his worth as the club and his representatives continue to work on an agreement that will see him extend his stay in Leith and battle for the No 1 slot, the unexpected jeopardy was far from welcome.
“I didn’t enjoy extra time, not after we’d looked comfortable at 2-0 up. But we dug in, showed a bit of character, a bit of quality under pressure to tuck them [the penalties] away. And, I enjoyed it when Porto [Hibs defender Ryan Porteous] scored the final pen.
“That was actually my first competitive penalty shoot-out. I had a few in the youth teams at Arsenal, maybe. But that was my first big one, so it’s great to win it.
“I was speaking to the goalie coach just before the shoot-out and he just said: ‘Get excited. It’s your chance to be a hero’. In the end, I didn’t actually save one. But I’ll take it!”
The 6’7” Englishman is a huge presence in goal and having denied Motherwell on a couple of occasions throughout the match, he forced his rivals to push the margins with their spot kicks, missing the target twice to allow Porteous to follow the example set by Martin Boyle, Melker Hallberg and Paul McGinn and slot home the decisive penalty and book their semi-final place.
“‘I was here for the League Cup semi-final, not for the Hearts game,” said Macey as Hibs look to make it third time lucky this term. “But I’m quite aware of the situation with semi-finals recently.
“From what I’ve seen, there is a real hunger, a massive hunger from the boys to put that right this time around. The boys are hugely motivated.”
Hibs should have seen their way through without the trauma after Christian Doidge headed home the opener in the 52nd minute and Jackson Irvine made it two when he touched a Kevin Nisbet drive into the net in the 80th minute but three games in six days began to tell and with Motherwell substitute Tony Watt invigorating the visitors, they pulled level. First it was Ricki Lamie who found the net, then Watt himself ensured extra time.
Motherwell finally had a grasp on proceedings but, even after Alex Gogic was sent off for a second yellow card as tempers flared, Hibs showed an ability to get the job done.