Alan Stubbs today claimed the pressure is all on Falkirk in the race to clinch second place in the Championship – because the Bairns are now expected to win it.
Hibs and Falkirk are battling for the spot which would grant them a less taxing play-off schedule, Peter Houston’s side three points ahead although Stubbs players can haul themselves level with a win over Dumbarton at Easter Road tonight.
But Falkirk enjoy a superior goal difference of seven, an advantage which many see as too great for Hibs to overcome with only a home match against Queen of the South to come while the Bairns host Morton in their final game.
The Capital side appeared to have gained the upper hand when they defeated champions Rangers last week but let it slip with a disappointing scoreless draw against Morton while Falkirk snatched another late goal to claim what could prove to be a crucial point away to Raith Rovers.
Revealing he felt that game at Stark’s Park had the potential for both teams to drop points, Stubbs bemoaned his side’s inability to cash in but insisted the respective stalemates had put Falkirk back in pole position.
He said: “I honestly believe now that it has flipped. The pressure is on Falkirk now – because they are expected to win. They are expected to finish in second place. If we were to do it, it’s because they’ve failed to get three points. So we’ll just have to wait to see what happens on Sunday, just after two o’clock to see how the table looks. Whatever happens, we’ll just have to be ready for the third v fourth play-off, or be waiting ten days for it to resume again.”
As much as he’d love to see his side pile on the goals tonight, Stubbs insisted taking the three points was of primary importance, adamant that it would be disrespectful to Dumbarton to talk in terms of winning margins while cautioning his players against getting hung up on goal difference.
The head coach said: “Goal difference may not come into it. You have to be careful you don’t get too wrapped up in that. Two wins might be enough, but obviously we want to cover all angles.
“It is not easy winning a game of football at times, so to try and claw back eight goals, and that’s assuming Falkirk don’t get more, is not an easy thing. But I think the players know exactly what we have got to do. We are going to be as positive as we possibly can be. We’re not being disrespectful saying we’re going to try and score four, five, six goals because it doesn’t happen like that. We want to win the game and whatever the scoreline is then we’ll take that. As long as we get the three points, that’s the most important thing. I think it’s disrespectful and I think it is wrong to turn round and say we’re going to try to score as many goals as we possibly can.
“Whatever the scoreline is, we’ll move on to Sunday against Queen of the South knowing we want another three points if we can. Then we know Falkirk have got a difficult game anyway – but to be honest, so have we. We’ve got two difficult games.”
Having said that, Stubbs admitted he’s happier that Dumbarton will be pitching up having secured their place in the Championship with their 2-1 win over St Mirren at the weekend but warned: “You can look at it and say they’re relaxed now and they’ll be playing with a freedom, with no pressure on them to get a point or three points. That can be dangerous as well.”