HIBERNIAN manager Alan Stubbs last night insisted any criticism of Rangers should not be allowed to overshadow the standard of his team’s performance in winning 3-1 at Ibrox.
Two goals from Jason Cummings and one from David Gray inside a 14-minute spell in the first half saw Hibs storm into a 3-0 interval lead. Nicky Law responded for Rangers after the break but Stubbs’ side were worthy victors as they dramatically revived their hopes of promotion back to the top flight.
They are now four points behind second-placed Rangers in the Championship table, with Ally McCoist’s team six points adrift of leaders Hearts.
Stubbs is aware much of the attention will focus on the failings of the Ibrox side but believes that his players should receive due praise.
“If anyone wants to focus on Rangers’ performance, they are doing us an injustice,” said Stubbs. “We deserve a lot of credit, not just for getting into the lead but staying in the lead. It was a really assured performance. I’m delighted for the players, they are the ones who deserve all the credit for it. I’m not going to lie, when you come to Ibrox and find yourself in a 3-0 lead you are thinking ‘What’s going on?’.
“The lads took their chances and looked a real threat on the counter attack. They were really positive. We had worked on areas where we thought we could hurt Rangers and it’s always nice when you get results from doing that.
“We have had results we didn’t expect this season, especially the defeat at Alloa where we didn’t perform. We are the first to admit we dropped below the standards we set. It was a little bit the same at Queen of the South.
“But apart from that I feel as if we have performed well in games. We could easily have taken more points from them.
“The lads took a lot of confidence from our performance at Ibrox earlier in the season in the Challenge Cup. We felt we should have taken something from that game. So to come here and win 3-1 is great for them.
“At the end of the day it’s just three points and we won’t get carried away. It puts us up in amongst it and we’ve got two home games now to really springboard what we do going forward.
“I’ve always believed in the players, I’ve never doubted them. Some people may raise an eyebrow or jump on that really quickly but the players have been fantastic since I came in.”
Stubbs had praise for two-goal teenager Cummings but also a warning that he needs to improve in order to fulfil his potential.
“Jason’s finishing was really good,” said Stubbs. “But I expect more from him. He’s got ability but there are a lot of elements to his game he really needs to brush up on.
“He’s very raw and needs to understand the other side of the game when we don’t have the ball. He can’t just rely on his finishing instincts. If he works hard and learns quickly, then he might just have a chance. He took his goals well but it’s wrong to just speak about one player tonight because they were all fantastic in the jobs they had to do.
“The defence were put under pressure at times and in the last couple of games we’ve looked as if we can cope with anything thrown at us. Earlier in the season, we didn’t deal with set pieces as well as we are now.”
McCoist was left to bemoan the poor defending of his team which contributed hugely to their downfall.
“The level of goals we lost was as poor as I can recall us conceding,” said McCoist. “We actually started well for the first 20 minutes and we in the ascendancy, then shot ourselves in the foot.
“Dear me, we lost the first goal from their goalkeeper’s kick-out. The second one was poor and the third was a comedy of errors. We needed a minor miracle after that. The defending was unacceptable. The league is a marathon but we have now lost at home to both Hearts and Hibs who are regarded as our biggest challengers for automatic promotion.
“That is concerning and we have to look at it. I’m fully aware of the passion and feelings among our fans inside the stadium tonight and can totally understand it.”