Alan Stubbs has admitted Hibs need to win all four of their remaining league matches if they are to take second place in the Championship table after watching his players throw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with rivals Falkirk.
And, in an added blow for the Capital club, skipper David Gray is facing a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final against Dundee United. The right back, who had reacted angrily to a first-half challenge from former Hibs midfielder Tom Taiwo, limped off to be replaced by Niklas Gunnarsson two minutes after the interval. Stubbs said: “He took a nasty knock. We’ll have to see how it settles down.”
The Easter Road side looked certain to slash the Bairns’ advantage from six points to three as they went into the final minutes of last night’s showdown in the Capital leading by two goals from top scorer Jason Cummings, the second coming from the penalty spot. By that time, Falkirk had been reduced to ten men, Aaron Muirhead sent off after picking up two yellow cards for fouls on Anthony Stokes and John McGinn.
But, in an astonishing finale, Falkirk skipper David McCracken – who had gifted Hibs the first goal and fouled Paul Hanlon for that second-half penalty – threw his side a lifeline with four minutes left, one they grabbed with both hands as substitute Bob McHugh equalised in the last minute of regulation time.
Falkirk retain their six-point lead and enjoy a better goal difference but with two more games played.
Although he insisted he’d witnessed a much-improved performance from his side – one with just one win in their previous seven league games – Stubbs conceded Hibs can’t afford to drop any more points if they are to finish second and so ensure a less taxing play-off programme.
The Hibs head coach said: “I thought it was a marked improvement in terms of performance from recent weeks. For 84, 85 minutes we were good then we have shot ourselves in the foot by two lapses in concentration.
“That’s the disappointing thing because the players put in a lot of effort. It looked much more like us, more like us in early season.”
While disappointed, Stubbs defiantly insisted this latest result hadn’t changed much in terms of what is needed. He said: “We still have four games to go, four games to eat into the points tally and to eat into the goals tally.
“Realistically, we have to win them all, but we were looking at that before the game. For 85 minutes, we played very well and we should be talking about three points.
“The one thing is the goals we lost were ones that you can eradicate. We have not been opened up, they were goals we should have done better with. We need to reward ourselves for good performances but unfortunately we did not get the three points.”