Falkirk v Hibernian: Penalty rancour won't affect players - Alan Stubbs

By Richard WilsonBBC Scotland
Hibs goalscorer Liam Henderson (left) celebrates with Jason Cummings
Hibs were on top in the first leg before a non-penalty award and Conrad Logan's error kept Falkirk level

Alan Stubbs insists frustration over refereeing decisions in their play-off semi-final first leg will not play on the minds of his Hibernian players.

The Easter Road boss remains adamant his side should have been awarded a penalty in the 2-2 draw with Falkirk.

They need to win at Falkirk in Friday's second leg, but Stubbs says that would have been their approach regardless.

"We all know it was a penalty, but it's gone, there's nothing we can do about it now," said Stubbs.

"What we can do is put another performance in and get the result.

"Anyone who thinks it wasn't a penalty makes themselves look a bit silly. But as far as we're all concerned, we move on. It's not going to be an excuse.

"We've got another 90 minutes, potentially 120 minutes, to get the result, irrespective of what happened the other night.

"Even if we were taking a lead into the game, our approach would be to go there and win. We know we're playing well and we know that we can create chances.

"It's going to be a very difficult game, Falkirk have done great this season, they're well organised, have a very good team spirit and individual players who can hurt you."

Hibernian v Falkirk - 2015-16 season
10 May: Hibernian 2-2 Falkirk
12 Apr: Hibernian 2-2 Falkirk
17 Jan: Falkirk 1-1 Hibernian
12 Dec: Hibernian 1-1 Falkirk
20 Oct: Falkirk 0-1 Hibernian

Across five meetings this season, the sides have drawn four times, with Hibs edging the only victory by a single goal.

Despite a hectic run of fixtures, Stubbs has no new injury concerns ahead of the return fixture. Midfielder Marvin Bartley, who missed the first leg with a leg injury, also returns to the squad.

'Nobody's thought about the cup final'

Stubbs dismissed speculation linking himexternal-link to the managerial vacancy at Blackburn, and insists he is relishing the pressure of the play-off games and Scottish Cup final, which could see Hibs play four games in the next 13 days.

If Hibs prevail on Friday, they would face Kilmarnock in the first leg of the play-off final on Tuesday, 17 May, with the second leg the following Wednesday, 25 May, with the cup final against Rangers sandwiched in between.

"Nothing will distract me," Stubbs said. "We've got, potentially, a huge 13 days left.

"It could be a great 13 days and no matter if I'm getting linked with someone or the players are getting linked with someone, we're not going to lose our focus or lose sight of what we've wanted to achieve all season.

Anthony Stokes battles for the ball with Falkirk's Aaron Muirhead
Anthony Stokes (left) has likened the Premiership play-off pressure to Old Firm games

"It's fantastic: cup final, chance of promotion, it doesn't get any better. How can I not be looking forward to that?

"The players have responded magnificently and the play-offs have helped because they've taken our mind off the cup final. Nobody's thought about the cup final, and it's only 10 days away."

'It comes down to who keeps their nerve'

Hibs' on-loan Celtic striker Anthony Stokes says coping with the pressure of the play-off games will be the same as dealing with an Old Firm match.

"I always remember Neil Lennon saying to me after an Old Firm game, just focus on the football, not the occasion. It's the same with this," Stokes says.

"Everybody knows what's on the line, but you've got to treat it as another game of football.

"You need to keep your composure, be focused and not be nervous going into the game.

"But it comes down to quality. The better football team wins nine times out of 10.

"You can say what you want, you can have your talk off the pitch, but it comes down to who takes their chances on the night and who keeps their nerve."