HIBERNIAN are ready to inflict a heavy defeat on someone very soon, according to David Gray.
The full-back, who was confirmed as the club’s permanent vice-captain yesterday, having been handed the armband for Tuesday night’s League Cup win over Dumbarton because of regular skipper Liam Craig’s back problem, has been frustrated by the number of chances his team have failed to convert this season. But he is confident that, provided they continue to create those chances, big wins will start to come.
An inability to finish off those scoring opportunities dashed Hibs’ hopes of getting anything from their matches against Rangers and Raith Rovers, and they only beat Livingston thanks to goalkeeper Mark Oxley’s freak strike. But their three late goals against Dumbarton has convinced Gray that they will soon strike a richer vein of form.
“I think it’s coming,” he said. “We’ve had 40 shots or something in the last two games. If we keep going the way we’re going, then hopefully we can give somebody a bit of a doing. We just need to take the chances.
“That first goal in the game is going to be very important and hopefully that can settle us down a little bit and give us more confidence to go on and score. We showed that on Tuesday: we scored one and the fans got lifted, and all of a sudden we had more confidence, more crosses going into the box and Farid [El Alagui] got on the end of things. We were just creating chances then, and that’s what you want.”
El Alagui scored twice as Hibs fought back from 2-0 down before Sam Stanton claimed the winner against Dumbarton, who had exploited the home team’s weakness at set pieces for both their goals. “He’s shown if the delivery is right he’ll score goals,” Gray said of the French-Moroccan striker. “The header from the second one was unbelievable. As he’s proven, he’s great in the air, so we need to keep getting the crosses in and the goals will come.
“I’m sure if you asked him yourself he’ll admit he missed a couple of chances last Saturday, so hopefully the confidence will come now with him having scored goals. If the delivery is right he’s shown he’ll put it in the net.
“He’s scored a few goals and his record in this division is incredible. At Falkirk he scored loads of goals and if you’ve got someone scoring goals you’ve always got a chance.
“We know that, even if we’re not playing well, if we put one in the box he could get on the end of it. It’s going to be a great lifeline to have.
“He’s getting chances. We just need to make sure we keep providing for him, because I’m sure the goals are going to keep coming. It’s great.
“We’ve also got other players. Jason Cummings came on the other night and did well when he came on, and he’s got something a little bit different to Farid. Then you’ve got Paul Heffernan – they’ve all got different qualities. We’ve got a good balance up there at the minute.
“The most important thing is to put the ball in the net, because with the chances we’re creating we know we’ve got to be scoring more goals. That’s something we’re trying to address.” For manager Alan Stubbs, making Gray captain for the first time on Tuesday night was an obvious decision given his leadership qualities. But for Gray, the honour was unexpected.
“It was a surprise. Obviously, with Liam being out, I didn’t have a clue myself. I was as surprised as anybody else, but delighted to get the armband and proud to have it.
“That was the first time I had been captain in a professional competitive game. I was fortunate to captain the reserves at Manchester United for a couple of seasons, which was good.
“I’ve had a couple of times when someone has come off and I’ve been handed the armband, but I’ve not had anyone coming in and saying, ‘You’re captain tonight’. It was really good, a proud moment for me, and I’m really enjoying it.”