While both Rangers and Hibernian secured penalty shoot-out victories in last weekend’s Scottish Cup semi-finals, there was a gulf in class between Alan Stubbs’ fortunate Hibees and Mark Warburton’s impressive Rangers. That disparity is set to show in tomorrow night’s Ladbrokes Championship clash.
Hibs were victors when these two sides last met at Easter Road on November 1, but the Edinburgh club entered that fixture on a run of nine wins in 10 games. They head into this one having claimed just five points from their last eight games.
There’s no doubt they have quality – especially in young hitman Jason Cummings – but defensive frailties and tricky away trips against hardworking part-time sides have seen Stubbs’ men seriously stumble. And this is a slump they will find very difficult to arrest against an increasingly strong Rangers side.
Having already won the Ladbrokes Championship title at a canter, some have suggested that Rangers may take their foot off the gas. However, they have shown no issues in refocusing for a Challenge Cup final – in which they beat Peterhead 4-0 – and a titanic Old Firm tussle.
Veteran Kenny Miller impressed again at the weekend, and the instinctive finisher may prove too strong for a Hibs side who have shipped six goals in their past three matches. Add to that the pace and skill of James Tavernier, and the trickery of ex-Hearts man Jason Holt, and it’s hard to see Hibs being able to keep the Ibrox club at bay.
The ‘Gers may even have the league’s top scorer Martyn Waghorn back from injury, though after two months out, it’s unlikely the Hibees will be facing a striker at his potent best.
The hosts do, of course, possess a proven goalscorer in the prodigious Cummings, who has netted 14 times in this season’s Ladbrokes Championship campaign.
However, as his scuffed ‘Panenka’ penalty against Dundee United showed, he is still a young and unpolished talent. The wily old figure of Miller is more likely to make the difference, especially if the midfield service he received on Sunday is in evidence.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.