Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today called on his players to “do a Hearts” when they face Falkirk in the first of the Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden on Saturday.
The Easter Road outfit go into the match having failed to beat the Bairns on three occasions this season, twice losing 1-0 and then being forced to settle for a draw after throwing away a 3-1 lead.
But after watching his side beat their Capital rivals at the fourth time of asking, Stubbs is now looking for that feat to be repeated, with Hibs aiming for their third final in just four seasons.
The head coach said: “The situation with Falkirk is very similar to the one we had with Hearts and it’s something we want to try and correct. Performance-wise I think we have performed okay against them, but I’m very aware that it will be a really difficult game, one that we’ll need to be at our best.
“The most important thing is coming through the game and getting into the final. There’s obviously a lot at stake, the chance to get to the final of the most prestigious cup competition in Scotland. It’s a huge carrot dangling in front of us.”
Avoiding the two remaining Premiership sides in the competition in Celtic and Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who meet on Sunday at the national stadium, to enjoy an all-Championship tie was the draw Stubbs freely admits he wanted – but he insisted Falkirk manager Peter Houston’s train of thought would be exactly the same.
He said: “There’s no doubt this is the draw we both wanted. When the draw was being made I’m sure Peter was looking to get ourselves. He’d have wanted to stay away from Celtic and Inverness. We were no different.
“It’s not being disrespectful or over-confident. If we’d had a choice, I think we would both have picked the same. We both have the chance to take our teams to a major cup final. It’s not going to be easy – I think the results this season prove that – but it is one we are really looking forward to now.”
Stubbs spent little time celebrating the derby win, his focus and that of his players turning immediately to this weekend as they returned to training yesterday aware that their win over Hearts and Falkirk’s defeat by Queen of the South had assured them of a play-off place.
He said: “I was delighted to learn our play-off place was guaranteed. It was one of the objectives we had set and to have done it with three games to spare is great.”
Stubbs was also more than happy with his side’s performance against Hearts, believing they’d finally got what they deserved from a derby with those goals from Jason Cummings and Farid El Alagui.
“I thought we went about our business in a very professional manner,” he said. “In the first half we were very good – we were the better team and no-one can deny that. Hearts came more into the game in the second half. It was a little bit more even in terms of possession, but on chances we edged it again.
“I thought all over the pitch everyone did their job, everyone stood up to be counted. They were outstanding.”