112 hours since we left for sunny Sheepsville and we’re back and in one piece. And so are the Hibees.
Roughly around 700 Hibs fans made the 3 and a half hour drive to Turriff, just north of the Granite City, and they were rewarded by an afternoon of glorious sunshine, a Hibs team far closer to a first team line up than many probably predicted (and we are grateful to Neil Lennon for rewarding our endeavours this way) and a game of football in a ground that you would be hard pushed to find set against a more attractive backdrop.
On the road up, just outside a place called Battledykes (which is no’ far from Forfar) we saw the beleaguered Carlton Branch bus parked at the side of the road. A pee stop? A rest and be thankful? We didn’t know until we arrived in the Granite City and stop for lunch…when 3G obliged us with the answer. The driver had contracted a dose of the Trotskys, they were stuck waiting for a replacement to come from West Lothian…and someone well kent on the bus had cadged a lift in a car and left them to it. (I’ll leave the rest to @Owen as he was on said party-pooper bus).
The Haughs is a lovely wee ground, set against the backdrop of rolling countryside in a wee town that does itself justice. When we arrived we realised there was going to be a much stronger Hibs side in action than we had perhaps suspected – Ofir, Hanlon, Forster, Fyvie, McGeouch, Squirrel, Graham amongst the squad that also contained the likes of Harris and Martin. Straight away we felt we had definitely made the right call in travelling the hours and miles early on a Sunday morning. As is the want with such grounds, you get up close and personal in a way you never do in bigger, all-seater stadia. You can hear every shout, instruction, encouragement and groan. We were 3 feet from Fraser Fyvie taking corners. We could hear him not accept anything less than 100% from anyone around him…and in no uncertain terms. We could hear Hanlon (captain for the day) be far more vocal than we ever realise at ER in his badgering of Forster and his direction of the two young ‘uns playing full back. Scott Martin (not Martin Scott as the announcer said when he read out the team sheets) had a run out at right back and was nursed through proceedings by a very supportive Fozzy. Dylan McGeouch (not Dylan McGeady as the announcer also insisted on calling him ) returned to play alongside a purposeful Fyvie…playing just a few miles up the road from the village of the same name. Fraser Murray, who looks six stone when soaking wet, was to make a surprise start in the middle of the park and was to provide us with much of the entertainment factor in the first half, in particular.
Hibs started briskly and were denied an opener in just the first few seconds of the match when an Alex Harris’ first time shot was somehow stopped by goalkeeper Kevin Main. This was to prove the theme for the remaining 89 mins. Hibs (Graham in particular) having chances and Main thwarting all but three of them…He took an ear bashing all first half as a cohort of Hibees behind the goals taunted him relentlessly. It was maybe funny to start with but it actually become a bit tedious after a while. And it made no difference to the keeper’s performance other than to seemingly inspire him. So, go figure, eh?
Hibees won a series of corners early doors including one where the generous Graham had a header crash straight back off the crossbar.
Hibees finally got the breakthrough when Murray received a pass from Boyle, turned neatly and despatched the ball behind Main. His team mates were over the moon, the laddie delighted. He was to go on and have a fine first half.
Hibs doubled the lead when Graham headed home a McGeouch cross. Two games, two goals. It should have been more. Most notable, just on half-time Main made another excellent save to deny Graham with another good header.
The second half saw Turriff sit in even more, happy to let Hibs have possession and looking not to take a doing. Hibs were happy to keep possession, passing it about the back four for some lengthy periods…much to the displeasure of one fan who shouted at them to get the ball forward because it was getting “boring”. Neil Lennon responded to this by delivering much the same message to his players…in less polite terms.
Boyle, who had not been as effective as we might have anticipated, was to add a third goal in the second half after nice work by Harris.
FT 3-0 Hibs
Marciano – a few bits and pieces to do and he looked comfortable throughout. His main contribution was shouting “Bravo!” a lot at Hanlon
Martin – shepherded through the game by the centre halves and did just fine
Crane – another one who did just fine in slotting in for the Testimonial Man
Hanlon – once more another stroll in the sunshine for Mr Composed
Forster – came in and played like he had never been away
F. Murray – provided some lovely creativity first half and a good goal. Faded a little second half
Boyle – not busy enough for me. Good goal but his highlight was hitting the cameraman who was 20 foot above the goal in the first half.
Fyvie – ran midfield
Graham – should have had a hat trick and he knew it
McGeouch – who the feck is Dylan McGeady?
Harris – in and out of the game.
Substitutes not used: Laidlaw, O’Conner, Smith.
Man of the Match? I agree with the match official MotM. They gave it to the home goalie and rightly so. I’m not going to take that from him just so give it to someone who strolled through a game in the sunshine 😉
Turriff – a lovely wee ground, a good welcome and an experience we can file away with all the other ones to look back on fondly…unless, of course, you were on the party pooper bus just outside Forfar