'The game plan was to give the ball to Boyley and see what happens' - recalling Hibs Hampden moment against Rangers

It was a fairly isolated glimmer of sunshine in a miserable couple of months but the fact that Hibs conjured up an emphatic victory over Rangers to book a place in last season’s League Cup final gives the Leith side hope as they welcome Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men to Easter Road on Saturday.

Joe Newell knows just how badly Hibs had been struggling when they pulled together that Hampden showing and adamant that they are a superior side this term, despite their Premier Sports Cup dismissal, he says they should head into this weekend’s showdown emboldened by memories of that encounter. Especially now that the man who was the hat-trick hero that day, Martin Boyle, has returned.

“It was an amazing feeling and one of the best moments I've had in football,” said the English midfielder.

“To be 3-0 up so quickly was incredible but that is what Boyley can bring when he is on form.

“We performed well as a team. We were strong, resolute and took our chances. That's what you have to do against Rangers.

“The game plan was to give the ball to Boyley and see what happens!! Seriously, when you play sides of that calibre every single player has to be on it or you will get punished. You also need to be switched on mentally for 90 minutes.”

Another win this weekend would be a huge boost after an inconsistent start to the season, in terms of performances within each 90 minutes and results.

Last season’s win failed to be the pick-me-up the team needed at the time but as players start to return from injury and newcomers grow into the Scottish game and continue to develop an understanding of their team-mates, Newell believes another triumph would accelerate that process.

Hibs midfielder Joe Newell has welcomed the return of former colleague Martin Boyle. Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group

“We were in a terrible run of form and [after the win] I remember thinking ‘this could be a catalyst for us’ and we’d kick on.

“It didn’t quite work out that way. But we know if we’re on song then we can produce a performance and get a result.”

At 29, Newell says he is still coming to terms with the fact that he is now one of the old guys in the dressing room. So many of this year’s recruits are not long out of their teens, and while that can foster inconsistency, he sees positives in that rawness.

“The youthfulness can help us. The guys can go in with a fresh mindset and take it by storm.

“I think the fact we had Hearts the other week gave the new boys a taste of Easter Road in these big games and they’ll see things on social media, the game will be built up and they will know about Rangers so it will be more about telling them to keep a cool head rather than getting them too up for it.

“I love these games, though. It is about going to war and trying as hard as you can to get a result.”

And, he hopes, earning more than three points in the process.

“It’s still early in the season but a good result would give everyone a lift.

“I do think we are a better team than last year. But, we need to go out and prove it on Saturday.”

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