Lewis Stevenson speaks on return to Hibs midfield and discusses Rangers defeat and Arbroath trip

In his 20 years at Hibs Lewis Stevenson has seen it all – cup wins, relegation, title victories – but even he must have been slightly taken aback at being asked to play in central midfield against Rangers on Wednesday night.

Friday, 11th February 2022, 7:00 am
Lewis Stevenson is confident things will click for Hibs - but they have to stamp out lapses in concentration
Lewis Stevenson is confident things will click for Hibs - but they have to stamp out lapses in concentration

The 34-year-old took over armband duties as well and put in a gritty peformance in the middle of the park at a snowy Ibrox in the Easter Road side’s 2-0 defeat courtesy of a first-half penalty scored by James Tavernier and an Alfredo Morelos strike in the second period.

Fewer than 50 of his 514 appearances in green and white have come in the middle of the park with the Fifer often found at left-back or, these days, at centre-half.

‘I’ll play anywhere’

Stevenson in action against Liam Rowan of Arbroath in a 2014/15 Scottish Cup tie at Easter Road

"It is a long time since I’ve played there but I'll always do my best wherever I'm playing,” he said afterwards.

"It was a pretty last-minute decision and there's no better place than Ibrox to come and play centre-mid! It's just one of those things. We've had a lot of injuries in key positions so people need to fill in and do a job where they can.

"We worked on it on Tuesday – Joe Newell's struggling, Kyle Magennis has obviously been out for a while, and Josh Campbell is struggling with his shoulder, Goga [Alex Gogic] and [Melker] Hallberg have gone as well. I'm happy to play anywhere; I've played there before although as I say, it's been a while.

Rangers are probably strongest in midfield so we didn't see a lot of the ball but I think I defended alright, I maybe should have been better on the ball at times, but it does take a bit of getting used to, especially at Ibrox.”

Stevenson takes instructions from Hibs boss Shaun Maloney

Less than ideal start: ‘We’re in a dogfight now’

Conceding a penalty after just four minutes spoiled Hibs’ start to the game, Stevenson having featured in enough defeats in Govan to know that handing such an advantage to the hosts can be disastrous for a visiting team.

"We gave ourselves a mountain to climb, it's not the sort of place you want to lose a goal so early on.

“We dug in and defended pretty well but we need to be much better with the ball. We still had a few chances but these things just aren't going our way just now. We're in a wee bit of a hole and the only ones who can get us out are the ones in the dressing room.

“We've got a dogfight on our hands but it's only us that can get us out so there's no point complaining or moaning about anything.”

Stevenson has played under numerous managers in the Capital and has had to adapt to new tactics and systems several times over. Like many of his team-mtes he remains positive about the direction the team is taking under Shaun Maloney.

"There are little things that aren't going our way right now; spells in games where we're playing really well and then a five-minute lapse in concentration and we're getting punished,” he sighed.

"It's hard to take but the manager has great ideas and we all need to stick with it. I'm sure it's going to come good, everything's going to click, and we'll start climbing the table again.”

‘We have to give fans something to shout about’

Hibs were backed by a vocal travelling support at Ibrox who, despite bitter cold and flurries of snow, sang and cheered the team on until the end. Maloney has previously spoken about the role the fans can play and his stand-in captain fully agrees.

“They've been with us, especially at the Hearts game. It was nice to almost get them back on our side but we need to give them something to shout about,” he admitted.

“We're not scoring enough goals and they follow us through thick and thin in weather like this and it does make a massive difference when they're on our side.

“They're doing well sticking by us and we just have to give them something to shout about.”

‘Arbroath is must-win game – cup focus could be helpful’

Hibs will hope to give their fans something to shout about when they travel to Gayfield on Sunday on Scottish Cup duty. Dick Campbell’s side are five points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship and Stevenson is wary of the threat posed by the Red Lichties.

"They're flying; they've been winning all season. I've seen them on the telly a few times this season, and they've got good players, good attacking players. I know a few of them from when we played in the Championship so I know it's going to be a tough game and a different kind of game to Rangers, but just as hard.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Gayfield is one ground Stevenson is yet to tick off, and he feel that having the cup to focus on could provide a welcome change of scene.

"I've never played there, not even in pre-season, but you'd be surprised at how many grounds I haven't played at,” he revealed.

"Arbroath are flying, they score a lot of goals, and it's going to be a battle.

“It's a must-win game. Nothing else matters apart from this game and it will maybe take our mind off the league for a wee bit, being able to focus on the cup.

“We just need to roll the sleeves up and start taking our chances.”

There will be more than a few folk fancying a cup upset with Hibs in less than sparkling form and the Smokies always dangerous, especially at home.

“I'm sure that's why it got put on the telly,” Stevenson smiles. “But that's why you need big characters. I've played in a lot of these games in the past and, touch wood, we've come out on top in most of them.

“It's a must-win game. It might be dirty, it might be a horrible win, a 1-0 scraped win, or we might play really well. But all we're focusing on is getting a result.”

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.