It might be tempting fate to believe that goals are a given in tomorrow’s final. Neither side have been niggardly on the scoring front and Alan Stubbs is wary of the firepower that Ross County will unleash on his Hibernian side.
As well he should. For all that Stubbs’ side have a reputation for rattling in goals, with a 43 tally in the Championship, Hibs have one league goal fewer than Jim McIntyre’s men have plundered in the more exacting environment of the Premiership.
With Liam Boyce having bagged 19 goals and such as Alex Schalk, Brian Graham and Michael Gardyne all potent attacking threats, Stubbs knows the task awaiting his team.
“We’ll certainly have to keep their strikeforce quiet. They have quality there and can be dangerous,” the Hibs manager said. “Basically, though, a game is won and lost by your 11 players. We need to play well from 1 to 11, or 1 to 14.
“Our more influential players have to stamp their authority, class and quality on the game. If we do that then we feel as if we can cause them problems. But I’m sure Jim will be saying exactly the same. I’m sure it’s a game both teams will be looking at and thinking they can win. There is no overwhelming favourite. Bar Aberdeen, that has been the case the rest of the time we have played Premiership opposition.”
Yet, what emboldens fans of the Easter Road club is what has happened to Hibs when pitted against the Premiership. The Dons, Dundee United and St Johnstone were all ousted in the League Cup. Hearts, after a second tie, were taken out in the Scottish Cup and Hibs’ quarter-final tie against Inverness ended in a draw. They’re unbeaten in six games against top-flight opponents.
“Good players always seem to rise to the challenge on the big occasion,” Stubbs said. “Right now, I have a few of them in my team. On Sunday, they have to rise to it. They should go into the game full of optimism and confidence.”
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