Hamilton V Hibernian at New Douglas Park : Match Preview
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Pressure is on Hibs - Neil
Hamilton player/manager Alex Neil would not like to be in the shoes of Hibernian boss Terry Butcher ahead of their Scottish Premiership play-off final first-leg at New Douglas Park on Wednesday night.
While Accies go into the game on a high following their 2-1 semi-final aggregate win over Falkirk, which came after the Lanarkshire club finished just two points behind Championship winners Dundee, the struggling Easter Road side finished a dispiriting season with just one win in their last 18 league games.
Neil recognises the problems that Butcher, who only joined the Leith club from Inverness last November, has been having as the results have continued to go against his side.
The 32-year-old midfielder said: "It is difficult. I wouldn't like to be in his position.
"It is hard when you are a manager and things are not going for you.
"I seen it here with Billy (Reid, former manager) when we were coming down from the Premiership. It was extremely difficult.
"You are not picking up results, you are trying to change your shape and personnel, and it is difficult to pick up a win.
"So it is hard for him. He done a great job at Inverness, he is a good manager. It is not as if he came in and made it a problem, the problem was there before he arrived.
"I feel for him but at the end of the day I have to look after my team and my job and make sure we do the best that we can."
Neil is hoping to take advantage of the pressure that is on Hibs.
He said: "They have been a Premiership team for a long time and with the size of club they are and the vast amount of money their players are on, compared to ours, everybody would fancy Hibs in a normal situation.
"But I think the fact that they have not been performing this season and we have been performing well, gives us a good opportunity and we fancy our chances."
There is a school of thought which believes the Premiership cannot do with another of its traditionally big and well-supported clubs dropping out.
If the Easter Road side were to lose against Accies they would join their relegated Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Rangers, making their way back to the top flight after starting in the bottom tier following their lapse into administration and liquidation, in the Championship next season.
However, Neil, who will consider bringing himself back into the side after serving a three-game suspension, said: "They said the same about Rangers (when they dropped out) and Scottish football has coped okay.
"Regardless of what size of club you are and how many supporters you have got, what you do on the pitch is what matters.
"You can be best run club off the pitch but unless you provide results on the park....that is what will determine where you will be and based on what we have done this season and what Hibs have done, we deserve a crack at it.
"If we play better than Hibs and beat them, then we deserve to go up.
"If we can take an advantage to Easter Road it puts more pressure on them."
Meanwhile, Hibernian boss Terry Butcher will ignore the confident noises coming out of the Hamilton camp ahead of the first leg.
He said: "They can say what they want and they are certainly doing that. We just get on with our job.
"We have had a lot of criticism this year and rightly so because we haven't played anywhere near the level we can do and we are in a position where we didn't want to be.
"You can talk and say things and Hamilton are coming into this match very confident because they won their last league game by 10 goals (against Morton) and had a great season.
"They are certainly on a high and there is a lot of talk, that they have positivity and we have negativity but I don't see negativity in our camp.
"I see only positive signs and good signs and a group of players who are determined to do well and keep us in the Premiership."
Veteran defender Alan Maybury admits he does not want a relegation spoiling his C.V.
The 35-year-old Irishman said: "I have never come so close to relegation or played in these games.
"I think it is a big thing. There is a lot riding on it.
"But it is another opportunity try to get the club out of the mess we got ourselves into.
"You can talk yourself into a black hole if you don't get your head up, stick your chest out, be positive and be confident in the group."
Kevin Thomson has recovered from a thigh strain and should be involved.
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