Cup replay between Hearts and Rangers could postpone Tuesday’s Edinburgh derby

Tuesday night’s Edinburgh Derby at Easter Road could be postponed should Hearts’ Scottish Cup quarter-final against Rangers tomorrow go to a replay.

The Scottish FA has announced that a draw at Tynecastle will result in the teams facing again on Wednesday, March 4 at Ibrox.

With Rangers playing their Europa League round of 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen over the following two weeks and the Scottish Cup semi-finals on the weekend of April 11, next week remains the only free slot to contest a replay.

Hearts are also facing the prospect of a fixture pile-up after their crucial game away to St Mirren was postponed last week due to heavy rain.

The relegation strugglers host Rangers in Gorgie tomorrow after upsetting Steven Gerrard’s side with a 2-1 victory in January, which remains manager Daniel Stendel’s only league win with the Jambos.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Stendel said he hopes his team can take inspiration from that January performance.

“Rangers will be more focused for this game,” Stendel said. “The cup is always a good chance for everybody to win a title, especially after the first game.

“For us it is important that we know we can win. If we play at Tynecastle then we have the support that we need against Rangers. In our situation, every game is important.

“The difference is that this is a cup game and doesn’t change anything in the league, but it can give us a positive lift for the next couple of games, especially on Tuesday night. We need better results.”

Stendel claimed that he saw a big lift after beating Rangers, however he regretted his side’s failure to capitalise on that as they only won one of their next five games – a 1-0 victory over League One Falkirk in the previous round of the cup.

This quarter-final tie gives Hearts a chance to switch their focus from Premiership duty, where they find themselves two points adrift at the foot of the table.

The St Mirren postponement has resulted in the Jambos having an extra week to prepare for tomorrow’s game, but it may have been an unwelcome break as Stendel admitted time is running out for them to turn the tide.

“All that we do in training is good. The motivation is good. The only thing that doesn’t change is the results,” he said.

“We can look to other games and other teams, but the only team that we can change is us.”

“I said to the players, ‘we cannot score three goals every week’. The other team doesn’t get a lot of chances, but every chance is a goal. Every week it costs us points. We want one goal to be enough to win a game.”

The German will be boosted by the return of striker Liam Boyce, who struck the winning goal on his debut when the teams met in January, however he is still awaiting the return of defender Toby Sibbick after illness.

Hibernian manager Ross praises owner’s ambitious plans ahead of ‘exciting’ time for the club

Manager Jack Ross says it is an “exciting” time for Hibernian after owner Ron Gordon unveiled an ambitious five-year strategic plan for the club this week.

Speaking at the club’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, Gordon said he wished to double spending on players by 2023 and for Hibs to firmly establish themselves as a top-four side in Scotland.

“I’d heard Ron’s presentation prior to last night and it was part of the attraction for me coming to the club in the first place,” said Ross, who took over from former boss Paul Heckingbottom in November.

“When I met him initially, I had a feel for what he wanted to try and achieve for the club. I don’t view my position as being able to spend lots of money; it’s about trying to be part of a club that progress and becomes better.

“But, naturally, if we find ourselves in a position further down the line where we’re able to recruit even higher quality players in one or two positions then there’s an obvious benefit to do that, but you have to use the resources in the right way as well.

“His ambition and his plans for the club are exciting for everybody involved – those who follow the club and those who come to work with it.”

Gordon also outlined his vision for Hibs to consistently challenge in Scotland’s two domestic cup competitions, as well as securing regular qualification for European competitions.

The capital club face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals tonight at Easter Road, while their push for a Europa League spot will continue with Tuesday night’s Edinburgh Derby at home to Hearts.

Ross insisted that his team’s focus is solely on tonight’s match against Championship side Inverness, and said that Hibs will be targeting further glory in the Scottish Cup following the club’s famous triumph in 2016.

“The fixture on Tuesday has no relevance to us at the moment,” Ross said.

“Our preparation this week has been all about this game on Friday. We spoke immediately after the game on Saturday [against Livingston] about the significance of this game and the prize at stake for us if we win it, and the potential prize if we keep winning games in the tournament.

“We set out from the first match we played in the tournament against Dundee United to try and win the competition.

“It’s a realistic aim for us and so far we have navigated ourselves well through the tournament, and hopefully we can continue that on Friday.”

BSC Glasgow: Inside the amateur team plotting to shock Hibs in the Scottish Cup

 

BSC Glasgow manager Stephen Swift says it would be the “biggest result in Scottish Cup history” if his Lowland League side were to defeat Hibernian on Sunday.

Hibs are huge favourites to win the fifth-round tie, and the pressure will be on the Edinburgh side to avoid embarrassment and reach the quarter-finals.

Swift has envisioned three outcomes from the game, acknowledging that a heavy defeat to Premiership opposition is more than possible, but says a win for his team would rank as the greatest in 148 years of Scottish Cup upsets.

“If Hibs go and wipe the floor with us we can look back and say that it was maybe a bridge too far,” Swift told EN4 News. “The other scenario is if we lose narrowly but the boys give a good account of ourselves, we can really be proud of them.

“But if the miracle did happen and we won, it would be the biggest result in Scottish Cup history.

“We’ve got the three scenarios there, but with any one of them we’ll be delighted with how we’ve equipped ourselves in this Scottish Cup run. There’s no pressure, [on us] and we will try to enjoy the game.”

BSC Glasgow, who were established in 2014, reached the fifth round of the competition for the first time in the club’s short history by defeating East Kilbride in the previous round.

(Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

But it was their third-round win over League One opponents East Fife that made headlines, as Swift’s men fought back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in stoppage time.

“That shows the belief within this group that they can actually be under that much adversity and come out with a win,” Swift said.

“However, we’ve got to have huge respect for Hibs; they’re four tiers above us in the leagues. But our players are under no pressure, and we’ll give it our best shot.”

There is no doubt that a win for the Glasgow outfit would eclipse other famous Scottish Cup shocks, such as Albion Rovers’ win over Motherwell in 2013, or Celtic’s defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2000.

Swift admits that he has faced sleepless nights thinking about how his side are going to achieve the impossible.

It is often tempting for a manager facing such unfavourable odds to surrender possession and play with 11 men behind the ball, but the boss is determined that his side play to their strengths.

“I’ve been up a couple of nights thinking about what I’m trying to do,” said Smith, who had a 16-year professional career playing for sides such as Cowdenbeath and Stranraer.

“I could easily set up and be extremely hard to beat, we will need to compact, organised and transition into our positions quickly, but one thing I don’t want to lose is our identity.

“I want us to give it a go, so it’s not a case of Hibs having wave after wave of attack. We’ve got to try and give a bit as well, I think that’s important and that’s the romance of the cup.

“If I went away and set up to not get beat heavily and we came away with a 2-0 defeat but never had a shot on goal, I’d probably be disappointed with myself, and I’d be doing a disservice to the players.”

One thing that BSC Glasgow will need if they are to take the game to Hibs is goals. The strike partnership of Thomas Collins and Thomas Orr has led to 31 goals so far this season and looks to be their biggest threat.

Collins, whose 17 goals this season make him the club’s top scorer, told EN4 News that he has been studying Sunday’s opponents and is confident of adding to his tally.

 

“Hibs are a strong side, but I watched them over the weekend and they’ve got weaknesses,” Collins said.

“Obviously they were playing another Premiership side but I believe we can create chances, and if I get a chance inside the box I feel positive that I can score a goal.”

On the tie, Collins added: “There’s a real buzz and excitement about the place. It’s a massive game for the club.

“Not only are we excited about the game, but there’s a belief that we can go and do something special.

“You’ve seen throughout the season that there’s a spirit within this team. We’ve come from behind or we can go ahead early and go and capitalise on those leads and see out games.

“So no matter how the game pans out on Sunday, we’ve got a great chance of getting a positive result.”

Kick-off is at 12pm on Sunday at Alloa Athletic’s Indodrill Stadium.

Daniel Stendel: Hearts boss demands improvement as his side aims for Scottish Cup fifth round tie against Falkirk

 

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has called on his side to bounce back from midweek disappointment when they take on Falkirk tomorrow night in the Scottish Cup fifth round.

The Jambos go into Saturday’s game off the back of a 3-2 home defeat to Kilmarnock, a result which left the Edinburgh side bottom of the Scottish Premiership.

Stendel said: “I think Wednesday was a big disappointment, we want to play so much better than we played. This situation is passed and the future is Falkirk tomorrow.

“We keep our confidence and we try to change it. This is pressure, yes, but everyone has this in professional football, we have to win.”

The German has declared that he will keep faith in goalkeeper Joel Pereira after a string of high-profile errors from the goalkeeper, having let in six goals in their last two games.

He said: “I am happy with our goalkeepers. Yes, we know that there was a mistake especially with the third goal [against Kilmarnock]. It’s not one player at fault for conceding the goals.

“Yes, when a goalkeeper makes a mistake everyone can see it but we train and we looked after him and we decided together [to play him].”

Saturday’s opponents Falkirk needed a replay to reach the fifth round, beating Arbroath 2-0 after a goalless first tie, with former Jambos striker Conor Sammon amongst the goal scorers, while Hearts defeated Airdrie 5-0 at Tynecastle.

The Bairns sit second in League One and are unbeaten since the appointment of management duo Lee Miller and David McCracken in November last year.

Stendel is looking to use the cup as a way to pick up Hearts’ league fortunes.

He said: “We can use every game to lift ourselves after Wednesday, it’s a good chance to show our ambitions. We want to win this game and get into the next round. We want to win every game but especially we demand to show that we can play better.”

“Your dream is to win the cup, whether in Scotland or in Germany. The chance is there, we stand at the moment in the league at the bottom but I think that we can win against every team.

“At the moment, we have some difficult situations in the league but if we play how we can play, we showed that we can win.”

Michael Smith is back in contention for selection, after missing the last four games with injury.

Rangers earn priceless win over Hibs to keep title alive: Scottish football podcast

Kris Gourlay is joined this week by Darren McConachie as well as new guests, Heather Miller and Andrew McDonald to run through Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership action and preview this weekend’s Scottish Cup 5th round ties:

 

 

 

 

Bonnyrigg Rose manager dreaming of Scottish Cup upset against Clyde

Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic manager Robbie Horn says it would be like a “dream come true” if his Lowland League side were to beat Clyde in the Scottish Cup on Saturday and reach the fifth round of the competition for the first time.

The “Rose” host their League One opponents at New Dundas Park and are underdogs for the fourth-round clash, although the Lothian side come into the match having already beaten a team ranked two divisions above them in Montrose in the previous round of the tournament.

Horn says his side have taken confidence from the upset and revealed that Bonnyrigg are using a potential glamour tie against Celtic or Rangers as motivation for Saturday’s game.

“It’s massive,” Horn told EN4 News. “There’s the carrot dangling in front of you of another big tie against Rangers or Celtic, or Hearts or Hibs. That’s what you dream of and that’s what we keep feeding to the player.

“It’s a dream, but dreams come true and hopefully we can reward everyone with a good performance and a good result on Saturday.”

Horn insists his side are keeping their feet on the ground, with preparations for the game going ahead as normal in order to create a relaxed atmosphere in the camp.

But Scottish Cup fever has swept around the town and a sell-out crowd of over 2,000 fans will be at New Dundas Park for Saturday’s game.

“The community has really got behind the Scottish Cup games so far and it’s been great,” Horn said.

“Hopefully there will be another great atmosphere on Saturday. I’m sure the Clyde supporters as well are very loyal and very vocal and I’m sure they’ll get behind their team as well, so it should be a good Scottish Cup atmosphere.”

Bonnyrigg will also take confidence from their league form. The club are second in the Lowland League with a game in hand on leaders Kelty Hearts, and have won 15 of their 17 league matches this season.

Bonnyrigg Rose’s journey to the Scottish Cup fourth round (Credit: EN4 News)

A promotion push will be the aim for Horn’s team come the end of the season, but for now, all focus is on keeping this Scottish Cup run alive.

We’ve done it before and I’ve got 100% confidence in the players that we’ve got,” Horn added.

“We’ve got to be at our best and Clyde may have to have an off-day, but the pressure is all on Clyde. They are a League One team and, on paper, they should be beating a Lowland League team, so the pressure is all on them.

“We’ll go out and enjoy the occasion. Hopefully the supporters will get behind us and make it as difficult for them as possible, and hopefully we’ll get the victory.”

Bonnyrigg Rose defender Euan Moyes (left) and captain Jonathan Stewart (right) explain how the Lowland League side are preparing for their Scottish Cup fourth round match against Clyde.

Rangers and Celtic to breeze past lower league opposition? Scottish Cup preview podcast

Kris Gourlay is joined this time by Fergus Robb, Darren McConachie and Aaron Purewal as they look towards what should be an eventful weekend of Scottish Cup action.

The main topic of discussion in the podcast is Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic’s tie against Clyde on Saturday, with Bonnyrigg being one of three non-league outfits competing this weekend to make it to the fifth round for the first time. Bonnyrigg manager Robbie Horn spoke to to EN4 News ahead of the tie, as previewed at the start of the podcast.

Check out our preview of these games, as well as our teams Scottish cup predictions below!

 

Hibs will be different against returning Lennon says Heckingbottom

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Hibernian boss, Paul Heckingbottom said he’s looking forward to meet his predecessor. (Credit: Luke Barry)

Hibernian manager, Paul Heckingbottom believes there will be enough differences tactically for a level playing field upon Neil Lennon’s return to Easter Road.

Celtic take on the Edinburgh club this Saturday in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup with new interim manager, Lennon.

The Northern Irishman left Hibs in January but made a surprise return to Scottish football earlier this week.

However, despite Lennon managing Hibs earlier this season, Heckingbottom said there won’t be a tactical advantage.

He said: “Well it is [his squad]. I’ve not signed a player.

“He is going to know the players but he’s not going to know what we ask them to do. For me it’s the same, for Neil [Lennon] is coming back somewhere he’s worked before which is always strange.

“It’ll different for Neil coming back to his old club which as I say is always a different sensation but for me nothing has changed.

“It’ll be nice to meet Neil [Lennon]. We’ve never met so it’ll be good to catch up after the game.”

It has been an eventful week for Celtic players and fans alike with the departure of Rodgers and his successor. But Heckingbottom insists it’ll be business as usual for the reigning Scottish Cup champions.

He added: “Obviously, Brendan [Rodgers] is gone. Big opportunity for Brendan and big opportunity for Neil now coming in as well. People just have to look forward.

 

“Celtic fans will be moving on now thinking about this trophy [Scottish Cup]. Football does that, everything is a big sensation one minute and then it just dies down and everyone gets on with it.”

The Hibees have won three out of three under new management with on-loan Reading player, Marc McNulty impressing the most. The Scotsman has scored six goals in four matches with his new club and his manager was impressed with his performances so far.

He said: “I’ve been really pleased with him.

“I can see him continually getting better because he’s not played much football and now he’s getting a run of games. He’s getting his fitness levels back up, his sharpness. We know he can score goals. I think he’ll be good for us between now and the end of the season.”

Partick Thistle v Hearts – Scottish Cup Preview

Scottish Cup

Partick Thistle have had a troubling season since last year’s relegation to the Championship (Credit: David Ronney)

Hearts are aiming to reach the semi final of both domestic cups this season when they play Partick Thistle at Firhill Park on Monday evening. 

The team from the capital will be hoping to bounce back after suffering last minute heartbreak against Celtic, where they conceded a 90th minute goal to lose 2-1 after going down to ten men.

Craig Levein has seen his side go four league games without a win, the last time they came away with three points was at Kilmarnock at the start of February. Their form has seen them slip out of the title race and down to fifth place in the Premiership table, now only three points above rivals Hibs in the league.

The Jambos can take comfort from their battering of Auchinlech Talbot 4-0 in the previous round. They also impressed in a 1-0 win over Livingston in the 4th round.

Partick are one of three Championship teams left in the Scottish Cup battling for a place in the semi-final stage and will be hoping to add to Hearts’ recent poor run of form in the league.

Considering they are currently bottom of the Championship it has been a very mixed season for the team from Glasgow who remarkably find themselves in a Scottish Cup quarter final with a real shot at making it into the last four.

Thistle have shown similarly disappointing form in the league, and having lost their last two games, find themselves rock bottom of the league on goal difference. Whilst it is tight at the foot of the table with a point between 8th and 10th, Gary Caldwell’s men will be all to wary of relegation this late on in the season.

The sides last meeting was Scottish Premiership in 2014 at Tynecastle, and saw Partick Thistle come away with three points after a thrilling 4-2 win.

Both sides will be eager to win, but the pressure will be stacked on Hearts as they look for silverware in a season that looks to have fizzled out after such promise in the league.

Scottish Cup

The trophy both clubs are vying for (Credit: Luke Barry)

 

 

Hibernian vs Celtic: Scottish Cup Preview

Scottish Cup

Hibernian will be hoping to replicate the successful run in 2016 (Credit: David Ronney)

Hibernian welcome Scottish Cup reigning champions, Celtic to Easter Road this weekend, in what is shaping up to be a fascinating fixture following Neil Lennon’s appointment at the helm of the hoops.

Lennon left the Edinburgh club in Janurary and has made a swift return to Scottish football with Celtic only a month later.

The job of Celtic manager was vacated by Brendan Rodgers, who was tempted south to take over at Leicester City following the sacking of Claude Puel on Monday. This sacking was the start of the carousel of manager turnover this week.

Lennon will no doubt receive a mixed reception from the fans upon his return to Leith.

The Northern Irishman was in the dugout celebrating the last gasp winner against 10-man Hearts on Wednesday night that maintained his side’s eight-point lead at the top of the Premiership table ahead of Rangers in second place.

On the other hand, Hibs have enjoyed a good run of form under their new manager Paul Heckingbottom. The new boss has won three out of three since his arrival in mid February. This included an impressive win at St Johnstone on Wednesday night, with Marc McNulty grabbing the winner five minutes from time despite Hibernian going down to 10 men.

That win took them to within three points of fierce rivals Hearts who currently sit in fifth in the SPFL after a disappointing mid-season lull due a long string of injuries.

Heckingbottom will know beating Celtic will hand them a fantastic chance of silverware this season, which would be all too welcome considering their woes in the league this season.

Neil Lennon will be hoping to win a game at Easter Road, which incidentally is something his predecessor Brendan Rodgers never managed to do. A win is essential if the dream of the treble treble is to be kept alive.

The first match of the Scottish Cup weekend kicks off on Saturday at 5:15pm and is live on Premier Sports.

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