'Anything is possible' after Hibs comeback - Alan Stubbs
HIBERNIAN head coach Alan Stubbs feels "anything is possible" from his spirited team after they came from two goals down with 10 minutes left at Tynecastle to force a William Hill Scottish Cup replay against Hearts.
Hibs started well in the fifth round clash, but excellent strikes from Arnaud Djoum and Sam Nicholson put Hearts in control before half-time. But the visitors forced Hearts back for most of the second-half and kept plugging away until Jason Cummings looped a brilliant header into the top corner. And Paul Hanlon scrambled home an injury-time equaliser after Neil Alexander had stopped Darren McGregor's header.
The character of Hibs teams has been questioned in recent times following their relegation and several Hampden disappointments, but the comeback is further proof they are confounding the doubters, added to their consistent form in the Ladbrokes Championship and League Cup semi-final win over St Johnstone.
Stubbs said: "It doesn't tell me anything because I already know it. It's other people that question it.
"I have said all along I have 100 per cent belief in this team. I enjoy coming to work, I enjoy being around them, I enjoy their company, believe it or not. They've got a brilliant team spirit amongst themselves. They have a fantastic bonding. And when you have got that and, most important, ability, then anything is possible. They keep answering the questions. They don't know when to lie down. There is a lot of fight in there. And the support was fantastic."
Stubbs felt the February 16 replay was just reward for his team's performance. When asked his main feelings, he said: "Probably satisfied in the end because I thought the least we deserved out of the game was a draw.
"I came in at half-time wondering how we were 2-0 down. The first goal was a good strike, but I felt we should have defended the second goal a bit better. At half-time, we spoke about how important the next goal was. We felt we could get something out of the game if we got it and so it proved. I thought, in the second-half, we were fantastic. We pinned a really good Hearts team back for the majority of the half."
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson was frustrated at his team's late collapse, but was still able to look on the positive side: "I expect them to defend a 2-0 lead and to lose two poor goals at the end is disappointing, but it's happened. If the shoe was on the other foot we'd be delighted, but the outcome is the same," he said.
"It's another derby game, another money-spinner for both clubs and a big one for the fans and you guys. Another full house, another game on TV. So if we can get through that, then it's even better than winning it first time. We'll have [Igor] Rossi back from suspension, we'll have [Jamie] Walker back in and [Abiola] Dauda up to match speed, so we will go there stronger than we were today."
Neilson felt injuries hampered his side, although Hibs were also forced into taking off Dylan McGeouch and David Gray: "We had a couple of guys carrying knocks right through, Nicholson and [Miguel] Pallardo, but because we had to take [Prince] Buaben, [Alim] Ozturk and Djoum off, we didn't have an opportunity to change it," he said.
"I think that had a little bit of a bearing on the game, but I have played in these derbies before and it's never over until it's over. Especially in a cup game, when you're 2-0 down, you just go gung-ho and you can get a result out of it. When it went to 2-2, we had a couple of good chances, but we should have done that at 2-0."