Arbroath may have crashed out of the Scottish Cup against Hibernian on Saturday but striker Paul McManus believes the ringing endorsement from all four sides of Easter Road can give them the confidence to ensure they secure a better outcome in the league this season.
The Red Lichties were heartily clapped from the pitch in the capital, not just by their vocal band of followers from Angus but also by the home support, who may have been combining their appreciation for the League Two leaders with a touch of relief at their own team’s progress to the quarter-finals.
The Gayfield men shocked Hibs by taking a 17th-minute lead with a superb strike from Kieran Stewart and gave their hosts plenty of moments of alarm with a willingness to eschew the usual cautious approach of lower-league teams taking on more-fancied opponents from a higher division.
Manager Allan Moore stuck with the potent, twin-pronged strike-force of Simon Murray and Paul McManus and went toe-to-toe with Hibs’ diamond midfield. As a result, when they were able to gain possession, there was a potency to their attack.
That bore fruit after an opening spell of repelling Hibs’ probings, mostly through midfielder Scott Allan, who showed why he had been the subject of three failed bids from Dundee United on transfer-deadline day.
Finding themselves deep in the home half, former St Johnstone midfielder Stewart combined brilliantly with on-loan Dundee youngster Dylan Carreiro to engineer enough space for the former to lash a stunning shot high into the net from a tight angle.
“We set our stall out to frustrate Hibs and we certainly did that in the first-half,” said McManus.
“If we had gone in to half-time at 1-0 it could have been a different story.”
Franck Dja Djedje’s equaliser three minutes from the break was well timed for Hibs and further goals from Jason Cummings, with the aid of a huge deflection off Liam Gordon, and substitute Dylan McGeouch in the second-half ensured there was to be no fairytale victory for Arbroath.
However, McManus is clear they can use the performance as a springboard as they bid to cling to their current spot at the summit of League Two.
“We’ve obviously got to take positives from the game,” added the 32-year-old.
“I thought we defended well and we worked hard. If we can keep that work-rate going into the league then we’ve got a chance.
“I thought fitness, effort, shape, everything was there on Saturday. We gave it a good go and we can be proud of the whole performance, from back to front.
“I thought we did well; we’ll take the positives from it and hopefully next week get back on the winning track again in the league.
“We’ve hit a wee blip. We’ve had injuries and suspensions but we’re trying to get a wee bit of momentum going in the league again. If we can get that momentum going then hopefully we can kick on.”
Arbroath were well served all over the pitch, with Moore revealing afterwards that the Hibs management team had reserved praise for the pressure exerted on their defence by McManus and the hard-working Simon Murray.
However, McManus reserved special praise for on-loan Dundee United keeper Marc McCallum, who the striker revealed had played despite suffering personal sorrow ahead of the game.
“Big Marc McCallum has had a difficult week,” explained McManus. “He lost his mum very suddenly on Wednesday night and he played on Saturday That was excellent from him, for a 21-year-old to still come out and play that game.
“That takes great courage for a young boy to come and play in a big game like that. He was exceptional.
“I couldn’t believe he did it and we were wanting a result for him, and obviously for Arbroath.”