Pressure On Semi-Finalists
Can Falkirk keep Hibs waiting at least another year from winning the Scottish Cup? Gary Holt thinks they have a chance
New Falkirk manager Gary Holt will be heading to the place where his playing career at club level in Scotland ended abruptly when he takes the Bairns to Hampden for the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final against Hibs today. Little did Holt know that he was playing his last game for the club when he stepped over the while line at the national stadium for Kilmarnock's League Cup final against Celtic on 18 March 2001. Killie manager Bobby Williamson spoke to him in the dressing room after the 3-0 defeat that a deal had been done to sell him to Norwich and two weeks later he made his debut for the Canaries. Holt's career kept him down south and he played for Nottingham Forest, Wycombe, and Lowestoft, while winning 10 caps for Scotland, before returning to Norwich as assistant Academy manager in 2010. Appointed as successor to Steven Pressley, who left Falkirk last month for Coventry, Holt took charge in his first senior post officially on Monday and will makes his debut at the national stadium knowing that the home of Scottish football has the capacity to throw up surprises on and off the field.He told Press Association Sport: "My last game at Kilmarnock was the League Cup final defeat against Celtic - but I had no idea whatsoever that was going to be the case. After the game Bobby pulled me aside and told me that the deal was done - see you later. You will meet Norwich tomorrow. I thought okay, no problem, I will do as I'm told but to be fair I've got to thank him for that, I went on to have a great career down south which propelled me into where I am now. I can't wait for the game. When you are at the national stadium, when you have a good crowd behind you and it's live on television, you just want to impress. You are a big kid in a sweetie shop, you want to enjoy it and showcase your talents. I was licking my wounds after losing 3-0 but it was still a great occasion.''One thing that did not change in the period Holt was down south is Hibs' Scottish Cup record. The Easter Road club have gone 111 years since winning the trophy, which is just one reason he believes Pat Fenlon's men will be feeling the heat against the Irn-Bru First Division club. Holt knows the winning feeling from back in 1997 when he was part of the Killie side that beat Falkirk to lift the trophy at Ibrox. He went on: "The pressure is on them, there is no doubt about that. We are the underdogs. We are the First Division club and they are in the SPL, and they have good players. But we have to focus on what we are going to do."Hibs 'keeper Ben Williams insists he is ready to be the hero if the semi-final goes all the way to penalties. The Englishman has saved six of the nine spot-kicks he has faced since moving to Easter Road last summer. Now he is confident he can extend that incredible record should Hibs fail to see off the Bairns in open play at Hampden. Williams said: "If we go to penalties, people will be expecting me to save five out of five. So that type of record brings its own pressure. As a goalkeeper, penalties are your time to shine. Players are expected to score but if you save a couple then it's fantastic. I've saved six out of nine this season. But my record of late hasn't been as good, I've let in my last two. But I back myself in these situations to do well and make saves. I will study as much as I can. Not just the top scorer, but all the players in the team. I also look into patterns and the psychology of it. But sometimes it can just come down to guess work."
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