Paul Hanlon: Hibs must win two games and then hope for best
Paul Hanlon today admitted all Hibs can do is win their last two games of the season and then hope that will be enough to pip Falkirk to second place in the Championship table.
The Bairns remain three points ahead of the Capital outfit after both sides drew at the weekend, Hibs away to Morton and Falkirk against Raith Rovers at Stark’s Park.
Hibs do have a game in hand at home to Dumbarton tomorrow night, but Peter Houston’s side enjoy a greater goal difference – seven to the good – which could prove crucial in clinching a finish which would ensure two fewer matches to negotiate in the play-offs.
But while admitting he and his team-mates had passed up an opportunity to exert more pressure on Falkirk as they were forced to settle for a no-scoring draw at Cappielow where goalmouth action was at a premium, Hanlon insisted no-one would be throwing in the towel.
He said: “It was disappointing. We didn’t play as well as we could have. The pitch was lively and we did not control the ball as well as we could have at times. We didn’t do enough in the final third and all over the pitch we were a bit flat, but we are still in with a chance and we’ll keep going.
“All we can do is win our last two games and hope that gets us second. We need to win against Dumbarton and then Queen of the South on Sunday, that’s all we can control.”
Admitting the Easter Road side looked flat after their Scottish Cup semi-final win against Dundee United and the victory over Championship title winners Rangers in midweek, Hanlon believes Alan Stubbs players will be ready for a punishing schedule of games in May.
He said “It’s going to be a busy end to the season. The manager said not to get too down about it [this draw]. we were in yesterday, had a recovery session and we’ll be ready again to go for the Dumbarton game.”
Although he felt one goal would be enough to take the much-needed three points from Morton, Hanlon conceded that Hibs simply didn’t do enough to win the game, although top scorer Jason Cummings did have one strike ruled out for offside.
The defender said: “It felt like that at the start and as game went on I was saying whoever gets a goal will win the game, but I always felt if anyone it would be us.
I didn’t feel we were under pressure at any time in the game. There was a bit of a lack of quality and wrong decision-making at times in final third cost us. I’d have to see Jason’s ‘goal’ again to see whether or not it was offside. I was back the pitch at the time, but it was Lewis who played the reverse pass, the sort of chance Jason lives for. Obviously he found it a bit disappointing to be ruled offside.”
While Falkirk will obviously be favourites at home to beat Morton on Sunday, Greenock boss Jim Duffy warned the Bairns they won’t get it all their own way following his side’s battling performance against Hibs.
The ex-Easter Road boss said: “We set out to make things as difficult as we could for Hibs. It was always going to be important to stifle the threat they have and you have to give my players enormous credit for doing that.
“Falkirk will be another very difficult match, but if we show the same determination and spirit then we will make it difficult for them as well.”