ALAN STUBBS watched Hibs fans snap up their allocation of tickets for tomorrow’s play-off match against Rangers in less than two hours – then told his players: “Let’s give them something to cheer about.”
The Easter Road support for the first leg of the Premiership semi-final will be vastly outnumbered by their rivals, the Capital club having received just 950 tickets for a ground which hosted its biggest crowd of the season – more than 48,000 – 48 hours ago as Stuart McCall’s team squeezed past Queen of the South in the quarter-finals on a 3-2 aggregate. But head coach Stubbs is backing the travelling Hibs fans to make their voices heard as they seek to roar their side back to the top flight. He said: “We know our fans will be vocal. There may only be 950 there, but it will sound like a few thousand – just like it was when we played there last time.
“We have got to give them something to cheer about. We have asked our fans to back us – they have certainly done that – and now it’s our turn to do our bit.”
Hibs faced a long wait to discover who they’d be facing in their first play-off match and it will be 18 days since their last game, the 3-0 win over Falkirk which clinched second place in the Championship table.
Stubbs, who took his side to the south of Spain in the interim, admitted he was glad the wait was over.
He said: “The games are now mapped out over the next two weeks and it has become easier to work out what is required. We know that we have got Rangers and the winners will then play Motherwell. It has become simplified and we have got a job to do now.”
Stubbs was at Ibrox on Sunday, watching Rangers and Queens for the second time in eight days and although he felt Stuart McCall’s side deserved their win, he also noted how the home fans became nervous and anxious when Derek Lyle brought the tie level before Lee Wallace settled matters.
He said: “I think that was what you would expect at any ground with what was at stake. I always felt Rangers would get a goal and, although there were big moments for Queens – Gavin Reilly’s chance and Haris Vuckic taking one off the line – Rangers also had opportunities.”
While Rangers went at Queens from the first whistle with the clear intent of getting the goal which would kill the tie given their 2-1 lead from the first leg, Stubbs believes they will adopt a more cautious approach this time round.
He said: “At 2-1, another goal would have made it an uphill battle for Queens. But we’re at the start of two games again and you don’t have to win it in the first twenty minutes.
“We have to realise it’s a minimum of 180 minutes and the last thing you want is to be out of it after the first game.
“We know having won twice there this season what we are capable of, but this is a completely different set of circumstances.
We’ve waited eighteen days to find out who we are going to play – now we know we are raring to go.”