Paul Heckingbottom hopes Hibs' shootout win can be springboard to better times
The Easter Road manager accepts he has been under serious pressure - “it is not a nice part of the job, but you have to cope with it “ - but now will search for the results to change that on the back of the quarter-final victory at Rugby Park which set up a last-four clash with Celtic on the weekend of 2-3 November.
The 5-4 shootout win after a goalless 120 minutes allowed the Leith club to bounce back after their derby defeat by Hearts which sparked a protest by a small band of Hibs fans at Easter Road on Sunday.
“We have to [go on to better things],” said Heckingbottom, before acknowledging the difficulty of forthcoming fixtures against Celtic on Saturday and Aberdeen the following weekend.
“We have got two huge games coming up now against two teams who were above us in the league last year. So we know what we’re fighting against. It’s easy for me to sit here and say we’re confident, I know we’ll do it. We have to do it.
"I’m just pleased tonight that the players have got their rewards, the fans have got their rewards and there’s been a battling performance because that’s the question that’s been put to the team. We understand that, it’s been justified.”
Heckingbottom admitted the red card Ryan Porteous received for cementing Liam Millar in the closing minutes of extra-time was also justified, and left him having stern words with the defender about an action he believed could have left his team floored in the tie.
“The sending off could have cost us. I have spoken to Ryan but I don’t want to say too much about that. There’s no doubt it was a red card.
“We showed a lot of character to go all the way to the end. It is never easy when you go behind in a shootout but we found a way to get through it. It means a lot because if it goes the other way after putting all that effort in then your are totally sick.
"It says a lot we managed to hold our nerve. People are always going to question you and there is only one way to answer them. We proved how together we were in the shootout.”