On a cold day, me and Shrink headed down to Dumfries through pretty heavy snow. By the time we got there and had learned the principles of dewpoints on bison slabs in the flats off McDonald Road from my enthusiastic joiner brother, the snow had been replaced with rain. A few welcome pints with South West Hibby and his son Nathan in the less than hospitable Robert the Bruce Pub and off we went to the fitba.
Its a skittery plastic pitch, where the ball bounces like someone has been sitting on it. They gave us a game. With few changes from last week, other than Captain Dave back, and Humphreys out for Fyvie. We lined up 4 4 2. Danny Carmichael started for Queens looking like the 12 year old he looked like in a Hibs shirt, with the dangerous Dobbie and expert nippy fouler Rankin in their ranks.
I thought we started slowly and looked fragile, Darren was giving passes away left right and centre, Fontaine was like Bambi on AstroTurf, the midfield was disjointed (With one notable exception through out), Holt was duff and Jason alone. Once we bedded in though, we took control of the game, Fonts and Daz looked solid, the lean looking Dobbie was well contained, Shinnie had a decent first half, McGinn an excellent second, Keats fleeted in and out but was keen and Fraser Fyvie never stopped and never put a foot wrong. We played with flat back four which allowed David and Lewis to defend well but rarely got forward first half. Jason never stopped wanting the ball and Holt just got in the way. Laidlaw was, as ever, steady and strong. However, one immaculate training ground corner from our best dead ball man, James Keatings, a cleverly taken shot with the inside of Super John’s foot, a fortuitous wee deflection gave us the goal that won us the game.
The Doonhamers are much improved and dare I say it, although they have Dobbie, it looks like they need a striker. Other teams will drop points down there.
Laidlaw never out a hand or foot wrong all game, he blocked, jumped, caught and snatched everything he needed to.
David Gray, captain of Hibernian on the day he scored the winning goal in the 2016 Scottish Cup Final had a good steady game with some thumping challenges on young Danny Carmichael.
Darren rather unusually let half a dozed passes go astray early in the game. He went on to be the class defender we know he is.
Fontaine too started poorly and was caught once or twice with the ball after pissing about too much. Even second half he removed his brain and went on a mazy that dragged him miles out of position when a 10 yard pass to Lewis was on. He did however do an excellent job of containing Dobbie, and might want to check both his own and Daz’s back pockets to check if Steven Dobbie is still in either tonight?
I thought Lewis was excellent today, first half as defender, second as both a defender and playing some nice football down Hibs left.
Fraser Fyvie was magnificent today, he was Hibs. His 90 minutes of hard work, tackling, dropping back, pushing forward were great to watch. I have called Dylan the metronome of our team, it may just be Fraser has stolen that mantle.
Andrew Shinnie had a very decent first half, less so in the second. He is a player of that I have no doubt, but he needs to ‘man up’.
Super John McGinn had an indifferent first half, but was magnificent second. A great goal scored and he drives and drives at teams, it must be knackering playing against him. Thanks John, watching you in you pomp is worth the entrance money, coupled with the fitba of Fraser Fyvie, 16 quid to get in is a bargain.
Keats set up the goal with a pristine corner to John McGinn. As I say often, I have grown to really like James Keatings play for Hibs. He tries hard to be creative, is direct and is very clever with dead balls. Keep it goings on.
Holt was rotten, the only things of value were when he tracked back once, didnae commit a foul and won the ball instead, and then wasted a few seconds fannying around with the Hibs fans when being subbed. Its like playing with 10 men.
I heard the ‘odd’ Hibby moaning at Jase. It cannae be easy up there beside Grant Huddie. Jason made space, tried to get in on goal and never stopped playng fitba. They took him off before his aforementioned co-striker.
Boyler replaced Jase with 15 or so to go. I don’t mind Squirrel being introduced as he runs, is direct and is enthusiastic in his play. He is a good lad is Martin, a super sub.
Forster replaced Keats with 5 or so to go, no reflection on the good Keatings performance but an acceptable move by the management team to see the game out.
Graham replaced Holt at the same time as Forster came on. Nae time to do much. Holt has walked from the centre circle to the Hibs fans opposite side of the ground from the tunnel and dugouts, gesturing his hands to represent 9. He knew he was going off and was time wasting. Not the Hibernian way in my eyes.
Overall, I think Lenny and Gary got the set up right, it was a difficult game on a greasy, bobbly, unpredictable pitch against a team with 2 or 3 good players. I felt we had room to play more football than we did and that a more direct approach with 11 players, not 10 and Holt would have seen Queens off more comfortably. The 3 at the back decision for the last five was clever and worked as we were under a bit of pressure.
The referee was distinctly average, I have seen him do worse when reffing Hibs games.
Queens are ok, they gave us a game, played football and have some decent players. We have no played them twice doon hame, lest hope its a long time before we have to do so again, although I may still visit Dumfries to sup beer with our excellent hosts, Stevie and Nathan.
The Hibernian support impressed today, we filled one stand and there were 100’s standing behind the goals in the pouring rain. As I keep saying, each and everyone there should be guaranteed a ticket at the Guntery in a few weeks. Make it happen Hibs.
Man of the Match was easy, Fraser Fyvie was magnificent today. Well played Fraser, a proper player.
Thanks to Shrink for the birl doon the road, thanks to Stevie and Nathan for the good company, and thanks Hibs for the win, eight points clear.
Next week, home to Ayr, see you all behind the goals.