Hibs play twice before then, including tomorrow night’s vital rearranged league fixture at Livingston. The Easter Road side aim to get back to winning ways following Saturday’s painful Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Falkirk, after which Houston seized on the Hibs manager’s contention that only one team “deserved” to be in the final.
Houston was furious that Stubbs had not given Falkirk the credit they deserved, something he complained had been the case in their previous two victories against Hibs. Houston also remarked that Falkirk had learned to prey on their opponents’ weakness for defending corners. The insinuation was he had expected Stubbs to have
rectified this by now.
Stubbs yesterday thanked Houston for pointing out Hibs’ deficiencies. However, he reminded his opposite number that, for a novice manager, he is doing fairly well according to the statistics.
“We have a goal difference that is plus 27 compared to Falkirk,” Stubbs said. “When you put that up against a real experienced manager then, for a novice, I’m doing okay.
“I think you need to ask Peter what he said when he came into my office when we got beat 1-0 in the first game,” added Stubbs, with reference to the teams’ first meeting of the season in August, when even Houston, he suggested, admitted Falkirk were fortunate to win 1-0. “It certainly was not what he said in the Press.”
Stubbs also wondered why his comments wishing Falkirk all the best in the final were not relayed to Houston following Saturday’s game. “My comments are never made to disrespect people,” he said. “I honestly thought, with our performance, that we played well enough to be in the final. I don’t see anything that is wrong with that.
“Everyone in the press conference room after felt we played well but listen, the facts of the matter are that we’re not in the final. What happened as well, everyone in that press conference witnessed me saying good luck to Falkirk. I didn’t see that come out.”
Both in the post-match press conference and then again on Sportscene on Sunday night, Houston pointed out that all six goals scored by his side this season against Hibs have come from crosses into the box. “I think what he [Stubbs] should think about is where Falkirk are getting their goals from – I know that is what I would do,” he said.
On the subject of whether such comments should be aired in public, Stubbs said: “It is up to Peter if he wants to state that. I did not say anything about
Peter’s team. It’s up to Peter.
“I wished Falkirk all the best and good luck in the final but Peter’s made his comments,” he continued. “He’s a really experienced manager, one that I respect and I’ll take his comments on board about how he scores against us. I’m obviously learning. This is my first season but I’m not doing too bad.
On whether Hibs do indeed have a problem defending crosses, Stubbs added: “I think we all concede goals from crosses. I think if Peter looks at his own team, they have conceded a lot of goals from crosses as well.
“Whether it is crosses or open play, that’s football. You score goals in different ways. We have scored more than most this season and I won’t change. But I will take his comments on board.”
“It’s funny the way football works,” he added, with reference to the impending clash with Falkirk on Saturday week. Stubbs expects his relationship with Houston to be unaffected by the weekend spat. “It’s been very good, I don’t see why it should change. We are emotional. You say things after games in the heat of the moment. I still have a lot of respect for Peter and what he has done.”
Stubbs expressed the hope his players can use the disappointment of Saturday to inspire them tomorrow night, when they know they will have to win to maintain hopes of finishing second in the Championship.
Hibs’ ambitions have been dented by midfielder Scott
Allan’s suspension, but Stubbs is confident others who played at the weekend can raise their game against in-form Livingston.
“I think it’s a really good thing for us to have the game on Wednesday,” he said. “No matter what the result I would have liked a game. No one likes to lose, especially in a semi-final. But we’ve got a bigger pot of gold to go after now.”
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