There’s a saying about Arran that it is Scotland in miniature…the wild sea, the spectacular mountains, the challenge of the weather, the annoying nippy midgies. Well, today it could be fairly levelled at the club that we all know and love that this was Hibs encapsulated. A sort of “Arran” of Hibernian football. There was the majesty of a John McGinn opening goal, the delightful intelligence of the second from Cummings and there was a freedom to express throughout the team…for the first 45 minutes, anyway. There was also a pedestrian start to the second half, a free header gifting “Big John Daly” (the announcer’s words, not mine) a goal and a customary panicky spell to follow suit in the second half. There was also a more “mercurial” Malonga outing (you all know what I mean by that), fighting amongst our own middle aged fans, Sauzee only knows what for…and a header off the line with minutes to go to keep our lead intact. Yep, that was pretty much all facets of Hibs in one 90 mins. Except, this time last year, I am certain we would not have won the game. The most important aspect of this all was closing the gap behind the Orcs to 5 points…courtesy of another big, fat three points. As Dundee Utd manager Mixu Paateleinen watched on (we could see you sneaking out with 5 mins to go big fella…and walking up the side of the road opposite the ground – there’s no missing you 😉 ) Hibs succeeded in putting us all through every emotion you might associate with following the current team and then some. We started very well, went ahead courtesy of a goal you will not want to miss when it appears online, and were playing football more akin to that seen of late when we were down at QoS. Jason was playing well, causing the home defence all manner of problems and working his wee penguin erky off. John McGinn was strutting around the park as if he owned it and was a joy to behold, his goal aside. Darren McGregor was marshalling a defence that was rarely tested in the opening half, whilst the likes of Henderson, McGinn and Stevenson were putting in good shifts. In fact, they all were…bar the mercurial one. But more of him later. Come half time we were good for our 2 goal lead and, indeed, it could have been more. We had played with freedom, expressed ourselves and taken two excellent goals. Nobody could have argued with the top line at the interval and all was well in the Val McDermid away end. What went in the tea at half time, Sauzee only knows. We simply did not get going after the interval. We were second to most balls, began misplacing passes, not closing down the opposition and generally looking like we thought we had won the game. The longer the malaise continued, the more Raith suspected they had a shout and, with one poor piece of marking, a free header saw them get the goal they needed to give them something to hold onto in the contest. And for the next 5 or 10 minutes, it looked like there was a comeback on the cards… Strangely, rather than thankfully, it was an injury to one of the home players that took the sting out of proceedings, interupted any momentum Rovers were gathering and gave us a chance to regroup. We needed to make changes and eventually they were made. First off the park our mercurial number 7. It was “one of THOSE afternoons” for him. I needn’t say any more. He was replaced by the livelier Keatings. Henderson, who was perhaps showing signs of tiredness, went next to be replaced by Bartman. Finally Fyvie made an appearance, replacing the appreciated and appreciative McGinn. This allowed us to see out the final minutes – which seemed to go on forever but were in reality a consequence of a lengthy delay for the injury to the Rovers player midway through the half – although not before we had one final clearance off the line by Fontaine, a couple of simulations by Rovers players looking for a penalty and a controversial overturning of a free kick to Hibs that the referee had given but his hapless pal running the standside touchline thought he knew better. Like he did most of the game.
Oxley – nothing to do first half, a good save when the wall did not do its job in the second.
Gray – a bog standard Gray outing, he was allowed more freedom because we played the three centres at the back.
Fontaine – an okay first half, a ropier second half but a crucial header off the line when it really mattered.
Hanlon – a standard, solid Hanlon outing.
McGregor – a good first half, he was the pick of the back line…will need to review the footage of the goal to see if he could and should have done more at the goal (it was his side).
Lewis – a lively outing for Lewis, better first half than second – but then that could be said about them all.
McGeouch – the most often misspelled name on the Bounce but their announcer went one further calling him McGok. He had a decent McGok Wan.
Henderson – some nice touches, good link up play but seemed to tire as the game went on. It was the right thing to bring on Bartman at the time they did.
McGinn – he’s braw. He’s proper braw. Just watch his goal on the intermabob or the tellybox. You’ll see what I mean.
Jason – a very lively and promising first half topped off by a clever, well executed goal. A lot of offsides second half because he wasn’t looking across the line. Stubbsy wasn’t happy.
Malonga – mercurial. I’m too tired to say any more. Maybe a bit like him.
Keatings – came on and took the ball into corners and was screaming for a simple square ball to be played to him by JC near to the end that would have taken the pressure off. Did fine.
Bartman – a few intercepting challenges, brought fresh legs.
Fyvie – not on for long but again a sensible move.
Officials – the stand side linesman was the focus for much of our ire and frustration and rightly so.
The grub – starving having not had breakfast before working all morning and going straight to the game…so relented and had a macaroni pie. It looked dead. Like it was road kill dead. It actually tasted better than it looked. Or maybe I was just starving. It could have been a scabby donkey. I didn’t care.
The Hibs support – outnumbered, outsang and outdid the home fans. That club is slowly, painfully on it’s way out if these attendance persist and we (and the Orcs) escape this League sometime soon.
Man of the Match – up until half time it was going to prove difficult for a lot of good reasons. After the game it was still difficult because nobody really did an awful lot second period. So, based on the first 45 it was a contest between McGinn, JC, McGregor and McGok Wan. I’m going with the one who made me enjoy watching Hibs most today in the shape of the lad McGinn. He’s a proper player, you know.