PETER Houston reckons this season’s Hibs team have one key ingredient which last year’s was missing – the grit and determination of Neil Lennon.
The Falkirk manager, whose side eliminated Alan Stubbs’ side in the play-offs 12 months previously, head the pack chasing the Easter Road side again, but having watched Lennon being sent to the stands in victory against Dundee United against Tannadice last week he fears that the Northern Irishman’s will to win could prove crucial.
Houston, who it should be noted is no shrinking violet himself, leads his team into a televised match against fellow promotion hopefuls Morton this Saturday night, a game which will start to sort out if either of these supposed contenders for the title will go the distance. Falkirk currently trail Hibs by six points having played a game more, with Morton three points further back, having played two games fewer. To complicate matters still, Dundee United are also in the mix and Hibs and Morton’s game in hand is against each other.
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“I think it is Hibs’ to throw away,” said Houston. “Hibs are in a very strong position, with a game in hand, and if they even take a point from that then it is theirs to lose.
“The difference between Hibs this year and Hibs last year is down to the manager,” the Falkirk manager added. “I was at Tannadice on Friday night when he was sent to the stand, and he was at it the whole game. He has an incredible will to win, a bit like myself.
“I can see that Lenny has instilled a bit of that into Hibs. I think last season, at times, they played better football, but they are grinding out big victories this season and I see plenty of the manager in that team. That’s for the better, because the only thing that matters for Hibs is getting out of this division.”
The picture should be a lot clearer in this division soon enough, with Hibs facing Falkirk and then Morton in their next two matches after Saturday. The three league matches thus far between Falkirk and Morton have all ended in draws, with the Cappielow side prevailing in the Scottish Cup. “First place would be lovely, but I don’t feel we are in a position to say we are the most credible challengers to Hibs, simply because Morton could be higher than us if they win their games in hand – as could Dundee United,” said Houston. “It is a huge two weeks for us, but I can’t look beyond Saturday.”