Posts Tagged ‘ Craig Brown ’

Hibs in Quarter Final Thanks to Deegan Wonder Goal

deegan A second half wonder goal from Gary Deegan gave Hibs a 1-0 victory over Aberdeen at Easter Road today, but once again, Pat Fenlon’s men had keeper Ben Williams to thank for reaching the William Hill’s Scottish Cup quarter final. Continue reading

Hibs Almost Safe After Pittodrie Win

Forgotten man Sean O’Hanlon was the unlikely hero as Hibs took a major step forward in their battle to avoid the drop, with a hard fought win at Pittodrie. The 2-1 victory, coupled with Dunfermline’s no score draw at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium means that Pat Fenlon’s men need just one point from their remaining two games to ensure SPL football next season at Easter Road.

Despite defeats to Kilmarnock and St Mirren since the break, former Bohs boss Fenlon has insisted that the players had been playing well and he had every confidence that their efforts would pay dividends.

Craig Brown’s team were still smarting from their heavy loss to Dunfermline and were determined to gain revenge for the semi-final defeat at Hampden last month, before a disappointing crowd of just over 5,000.

Fenlon brought in O’Hanlon to replace the injured James McPake whilst Jorge Claros replaced the suspended Lewis Stevenson. Top scorer Garry O’Connor returned to the team after missing the St Mirren game due to an illness, and replaced former Sligo Rovers striker Eoin Doyle who returned to the bench. Craig Brown made three changes to the team which lost 3-0 to Dunfermline on Saturday.

Hibs started brightly and took the lead after only seven minutes when a Leigh Griffiths cross was turned into his own net by Mark Reynolds, much to the delight of the travelling support.

The Easter Road men doubled their lead ten minutes later. Isaiah Osbourne robbed Fraser Fyvie in midfield, but his long range shot was deflected by Andrew Considine. Griffiths took the corner and O’Hanlon, who has barely featured in the first team since the departure of Colin Calderwood, headed the ball past Jamie Langfield at the near post for his second goal of the season.

Griffiths went close with a free kick as Hibs dominated the first half with 60% possession and the Dons left the field at half time to a chorus of boos from the home support.

The home side took the criticism to heart and pulled a goal back shortly after the break when Scott Vernon volleyed home from close range.

As the nerves began to show, Aberdeen took control of the game and Mark Brown did well to tip a fierce shot from Arnason over the bar. Hibs tried to hit on the break and Roy O’Donovan set up David Wotherspoon inside the box, but the youngster hit his shot over the bar.

With seconds to go, Magennis headed an injury-time corner over the bar, and the visitors held out to take the points.

After the game, Fenlon claimed that the victory was more important than the cup game. He said:” “If it means we stay up then it’ll be a much bigger win. I thought we played better tonight than we did in the semi-final to be honest.”

“It’s not done yet, the important thing is that we don’t get carried away. Dunfermline are going to come and throw everything at us, it’s a big game now for them as well.”

“At the end of the game we were under pressure but we should have been out of sight at that stage, we missed a fair few chances tonight. When it gets to this stage of the season it is a little bit edgy.”

The Hibs boss was also praised the efforts of Garry O’Connor who played despite not being 100% fit.

“He did well to last as long as he did as he’s been fairly ill for the past three or four days, so he’s only had one training session under his belt in about six days.”

Aberdeen: Langfield, Reynolds, Considine, Jack, Anderson, Hughes, Arnason, Fyvie, Rae Masson Vernon, Magennis  Subs. Brown, McArdle, Clarke, Fraser, Fallon, Mackie Megginson

Hibs: Stack, McPake, Kujabi, Hanlon, Doherty, Soares, Francombe, Claros, Osbourne, Griffiths, O’Connor, Subs Grant, Doyle, Sproule, Murray, O’Donovan, Wotherspoon Stephens

Attendance  5,281

Murray would endure the pain of relegation for cup win

It’s the question that has been asked and answered a thousand times in the pubs around Easter Road since Hibs eased past Ayr United to secure a semi-final place against Aberdeen at Hampden. Would you accept relegation, if it guaranteed a win in the Scottish Cup final?

Opinions are divided with some adamant that SPL survival must be the club’s number one priority, whilst the more romantic of the faithful argue that a season in division one would be a small price to pay to get the 110 year albatross off their necks.

The directors who worry about the financial implications are amongst the former, but one player is in the other camp. Club captain Ian Murray has no doubts and would happily swap relegation for cup glory on May 19, to erase the pain of their century old hoodoo. The midfielder whose season has been blighted by injury is desperate to see his beloved Hibs reach their first final since 2001 when a Henrik Larsson inspired Celtic led by Martin O’Neill beat Alex McLeish’s Hibs side 3-0. Murray played in that game as a teenager and should he feature in this year’s final, he will emulate the feat of legendary winger Arthur Duncan who played in two finals in the seventies.

The former Rangers and Norwich player said: “Our SPL form is poor but I’d say every fan and most of the players would take relegation if it meant we would win the Scottish Cup. “From a financial point of view for the club, the directors would pull their hair out if that happened, but as a romantic thing for the fans, they would take the Cup. If we could get both it would be fantastic”

“Second bottom of the SPL is not great at all but we’d all take that with a Cup Final appearance. “It has been that long and there have been so many great Hibs teams which haven’t won it and to get to a semi or final is a special achievement. The fans talk about it more than players but I don’t buy into hoodoos.”

Murray was just a teenager when he received the shock nod from gaffer Alex McLeish for the big day. “I don’t remember much talk about the hoodoo going into the 2001 final because we had such a good team. We were just unfortunate to come up against an exceptional Celtic side. I firmly believe had we kept that team in place, we could have had a chance of winning the title. But in the final Russell Latapy had his problems beforehand and didn’t play, while Franck Sauzee did play but wasn’t fully fit. We did really well for the first 30 minutes and Marc Libra had a chance in an even start. But things worked against us, such as Lubo Moravcik going off injured and Jackie McNamara coming on to score.”

“Celtic won well in the end but I feel that if we had faced anyone else that season, we would have won it. The hype around the game was fantastic, though, and it was great to be there.

“It was my first taste of a cup final at Hampden and it was so special for me, so to get back there would be fantastic. Stuart Lovell had missed eight games and I had been playing instead of him.

“It was the Wednesday beforehand and the gaffer pulled me in. I thought it was for the inevitable, ‘We’re going with experience line.’ I was expecting the bombshell and was ready to take it on the chin and be happy at just being around the squad.

“But then he said he’d play me wide right and Stuart was the one who was unhappy with the manager. It was a huge occasion, especially as I didn’t expect to play. I didn’t even tell my mum and dad I was playing as news might have got out. It was a great occasion and although we lost, it is a great memory.

“You hear people talking about losing these games and throwing away their medals but I don’t buy into that. Getting all the way to a final is a great achievement and something you should savour. Let’s face it, if I get back this season it’ll be my first since 2001 so they don’t come around too often.”

The versatile midfielder, who is in his testimonial year at Easter Road, is not underestimating the task of beating Craig Brown’s Aberdeen, and he is desperate to be in the squad after recovering from a long term groin injury. Last week, he came through sixty minutes in a bounce game against St Mirren at the East Mains training centre.

“I’ve not played in many semi-finals in the Scottish Cup. In 2000 I was on the bench when Aberdeen beat us 2-1. I played against Livingston when we reached the final in 2001 but I was suspended when Dundee United beat us 2-1 in 2005”.

“I know the feeling of being left out but if I am lucky I’ll get on the bench and at least have a wee chance of playing.

“I imagine I’ll be part of the squad. Perhaps the fact I can play a few positions might work in my favour but it’ll depend on how I train. If that goes well, you never know.”

Murray also knows that victory could set up an all-Edinburgh final if Hearts can beat champions Celtic on Sunday, and despite the dreadful record in recent derbies, he believes that winning the cup against Hearts would be the ultimate dream for him and the long suffering fans.

Murray said: “I expect Celtic to win the other semi but we would rather play Hearts as they are sixth in the table. Hearts have had the upper hand against us recently and we know that losing to our main rivals would be heart-breaking.”

“But beating them would make it extra special; you could lose the next 20 derbies and it would still be brilliant!”

If Murray does become only the second Hibs player to feature in two cup finals, he will no doubt hope for a different ending. The luckless Duncan scored the winning goal in the 1979 final, but unfortunately it was at the wrong end, and his diving header gave Rangers an undeserved 3-2 victory in the second replay at Hampden.

Matt Doherty enjoying his loan spell at Hibs

Avoiding relegation rather than picking up silverware was Matt Doherty’s main objective when former manager Pat Fenlon came calling on the last day of the transfer window, particularly when he realised that he was one of eight new signings for the Easter Road men.

Since then, the former Bohemians defender has won over the Hibs support with several outstanding performances in the back four, and he is now looking forward to a semi-final against Aberdeen at Hampden Park next month.

Although signed by Fenlon for Bohs, Doherty never played a competitive game for the club before being spotted by Wolves in a pre-season friendly against them. Former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was so impressed; he paid a reported £75k for the young defender, and awarded him a two year contract. So far he has played two games for the Premier League club, against Doncaster and Liverpool, and is considered a player with huge potential by the Molineux faithful.

Semi-final opponents Aberdeen are currently ten points and three places above Hibs and are enjoying a run of 13 matches undefeated but, in three games between the sides this season, only a disputed penalty at Pittodrie, for which Dons youngster Peter Pawlett received a two match ban for diving, separated the teams. The other two matches, both played at Easter Road, ended in no-scoring draws, leaving the semi-final finely balanced, with both Pat Fenlon and Craig Brown equally determined to reward their supporters for a poor season.

The Dublin born youngster told the Edinburgh Evening News: “When we came to Hibs we were all people who did not know each other, but that has worked for us. The boys have all settled in well, we’re looking solid at the back and playing with a lot of confidence going forward.

“We’ve been keeping clean sheets and even if we are not winning every match we have been creating chances in all of our games which has given everyone a boost.”

“I thought Somerset Park was great, a nice little stadium. I thought the fans, packed in and standing round three sides of the ground made for a real cup-tie feeling.

“Now we are swapping that for Hampden with more than 52,000 seats and I’m sure it will be almost full when the semi comes around. It’s something for us all to look forward to. I have to admit that it’s a real bonus.

“When I came to Hibs all I was thinking about was the league games to be played but then I found out after we’d beaten Kilmarnock that if we were to win at Ayr we’d be playing at Hampden.

“It will be my first semi- final at this level of football; we’ll be up for the game just as Aberdeen will. It’s a chance for us to win a bit of silverware this club hasn’t had in a long time and while it won’t be easy, in Cup football things can go your way on the day.”

Doherty was surprised to find himself playing at left back in the quarter final tie, after replacing Gambian internationalist Pa Kujabi who had felt ill at half-time.

He said: “I thought I’d be going in alongside James McPake with Paul Hanlon going out but the gaffer asked me how I was at left back. I just wanted to get on the pitch so I told him ‘fine’, and it worked out just that.”

If Doherty wants to know what it’s like to play at the national stadium, he need only ask Wolves team mate Steven Fletcher who reserved arguably his best performance in the green jersey, scoring twice against Kilmarnock in the League Cup Final, exactly five years ago this Sunday.

All thoughts of Hampden have been put on hold this week however as Hibs play city rivals Hearts at Tynecastle, determined to end a run of nine derbies going back three years without a victory. With fellow relegation candidates Dunfermline idle this weekend, Doherty knows that a victory would move them seven points clear and provide a huge boost in the fight against the drop.

He said: “I’ve heard all about it, it’s a massive game for both clubs and it would be even nicer to win away from home. It’s a chance to pull ourselves that bit further away from Dunfermline. We’ll be going into it with confidence.”

Midfielder Isaiah Osbourne will miss the derby through suspension as will Hearts captain Marius Zaliukas. The match kicks off at 1200 on Sunday and will be shown live on ESPN.