BLACK-CATS-696061By the end of the game, I had quite enjoyed that. Pre season friendlies allow clubs to try things out, let players gel and suchlike. Just shy of 10,000 fans turned out and witnessed a reasonable game. My main observations are that Sunderland didnae look very good, Hibs are far better when we play two up front and John McGinn has bulked up and got a whole lot better too.

These games always mean lots of changes, the Mackems made 6 changes at half time, we made three all at once at one point, however when we did we looked better, especially the introduction of the second striker. Coming back from 2-0 down to a team who were in the English Premier League last season is no mean feat, we might even have won it at the end?

It was played in a combative manner, especially when Barts and Cattermole started blootering one another and I felt the Black Cats fouled way too much second half.

Star of the day Lewis Stevenson seemed to enjoy the day and I was impressed by the team approach when Lewis was subbed and again when he took the applause from the crowd after the game. There is a real team spirit about Hibernian, I like that.

The Team

Rocky had a couple of smashing saves and looks strong, capable and confident.

David Gray, scorer of the winning goal in the 2016 Scottish Cup Final had a good game, he enjoyed getting up the pitch and the competitive approach of the English team.

Darren strolled through the game, he is a rock.

I thought Fonts was wobbly and we improved when young Porteous came on.

Lewis had a smashing game, and enjoyed himself. He linked well with Swanson and then with Boyle when Boyle flipped over. Lewis has been a fine servant to Hibernian and I hope he stays with us the rest of his career, a real professional and absolute gem of a man.

Super John was Hibs best player, first half and especially second. His looks physically stronger and was very hungry. His pass for the equaliser was an inch perfect 40 yarder. I think it was his pass that found Boyler for the first too? I love John.

Dylan played well in parts, although he took an early sore one.

Barts had little to do first half but enjoyed his second half as he went to war with Lee Cattermole. He was quickly subbed before he killed the nippy Mackem.

Boyler played wide and had some decent moves, scoring a good driven goal coming in from the left.

I was a bit disappointed with Swanson, he never looked fit and I am not sure he is a wide man. Some good interplay from him though.

Simon Murray played most of the game up alone and was a menace, I really like the big lad. When we put Graham on it gave more for Simon to work with and he scored his first goal for Hibs following the aforementioned 40 yard SJM pass to Gray who stuck in a good cross to tap into the net.

Subs, well where do we begin?

I think the first three were as follows:

Pennant for Swanson. He is ok, but he cannae cross a ball, no much use when you are a winger. Still not convinced.

Fraser Murray for Dylan. Fraser is a future star I think, left wing last Thursday, centre mid today. very decent young player.

Porteous for Fontaine, as I said above, Hibs looked stronger when the big laddie came on. Looks like another ‘class defender’.

Dunsmore came on from Gray and did fine.

Graham replaced Barts after Barts and Cattermole starting blootering each other. Graham did ok, he mixed it up.

Ollie Shaw replaced Simon Murray and nearly got himself a goal. Once he bulks up, I think Ollie will be a handful.

Finally Calum Crane replaced hero of the day, Lewis Stevenson. Lewis was given a standing ovation from both sets of fans and players. Calum slots in comfortably.

Neil and Gary are clearly still tinkering. I don’t like the single striker thing, we did not look threatening enough. When we went to two up front, Sunderland could barely contain us. Worth considering guys.

I didnae think much of Sunderland, they might have a long hard season ahead of them. Well done the near 1000 Black cats who came up the road, pity you spoiled it a little singing that song about the Gracious Queen, no idea what Quentin Crisp has to do with fitba?

The Referee managed the game well.

Other points of interest, well done both sets of fans for the immaculately observed minutes applause for young Bradley Lowery. Rest in Peace little man.

Also the half time penalties starring Hendo, Stokesy, Sparky and Ian Murray. Sparky scored 2, Nid 1 and the other two none. Just make sure the first three sign their new contracts with us before you let them out the ground Hibs.

Hibs best player was Super John, he was immense. Man of the Match was Lewis Stevenson, the man with two cup winning medals is Mr Hibs.

I enjoyed that, and we can see we have a lean squad and need a few more players in.

I will now hand over the Just Backs to my pal SKII as I head off to the sun with Mrs 1875. See you at Alloa in a few weeks.

Hibernian Forever!

Mark

 

berwick lg

Driving down the A1 to Berwick tonight, I almost stopped the car and turned around when my laddie told me the Hibs line up for the match. Almost…the only trouble was we’d already gone through passport control and were in England when we established the seriousness with which the club were taking proceedings. Even the announcer at the ground commented that “We thought they were going to bring a stronger side here tonight folks”. I’m sure they did. Maybe they would have charged less if they realised we were being given a development game in everything but name. Not one guaranteed first team start player made the trip to Engerlund – unless you count the Secret Squirrel in the stand, hiding his new baldie heidstyle under a baseball cap.

Those who were at the game (maybe around 800 Hibees made the trip) and those who picked up my regular texts, will know that there was little to shout about for most of the game. Berwick were well organised and looked to contain our youngsters from the off. A significantly bigger and more mature outfit, they physically filled the spaces that our youngsters were trying to feed the ball into, were tight on them whenever they were in possession and there were a number of meaty challenges, especially on Pennant, who had started in lively fashion.

Scott Martin was partnered in midfield by Fraser Murray, with Pennant and Swanson on either flank. Graham (more about him later) buddied Shaw up top. As I said in some of the texts on the match update thread, I felt that Murray, for all his clever play, was often too far advanced in his support of the two forwards. Almost playing that modern conception of the false No 10, he left Martin having too much to do in midfield on his own at times. Graham, having had a decent outing against Sunderland, turned up in his usual guise of Colin Nish on rollerskates. He was to become the cente of attention when a penalty was won by Danny Swanson and the big felly stepped up to take it. Unfortunately, the ball ended up half way to the Hook of Holland when he skied it several metres over the bar.

Hibs huffed and puffed but never looked like blowing anyone’s house down. Berwick huffed and puffed and were possibly unlucky not to go in ahead at half time after a 1 v 1 situation transpired in the dying seconds of the half. I’m giving Laidlaw the benefit of the doubt in saying that he did everything required of him in staying large and forcing the forward wide. Shrink’s summation is possibly as equally close to the truth. He simply called the Berwick striker a puddin’.

At half time on here I commented that I felt the game needed the introduction of Handling and Stanton. And so that seems to have been a shrewd call/guess. The introduction of both made a difference. Danny took a bit longer to get going, giving us a couple of fresh air swipes that even Graham might have struggled to do, but Sammy made a difference from the off. Playing with their heads up, physically just a bit more mature than the development boys and looking to play the others, including Pennant, into the game more, they helped take the team up a level. At the same time, it is also probably fair to say that the physical side of things came into things as a factor. Our players appeared stronger the longer the game went on. I know you would hope that to be the case but it was good to see it was. Stanton was pulling the strings but it was a fortunate ricochet, after a muck up by former Hibs youth keeper Brennan, into the path of Handling and he didn’t need a second invite to put the ball into the back of the net. Having travelled 50 miles and spent £50 on doing so, I was grateful to him for finally making the break through. But maybe not as grateful as Colin Nish’s giraffe like twin.

The longer the game went on, the more likely Hibs were to score and Shaw netted a well taken second goal to make things look a bit more respectable.

Final Score 2-0

Team

Laidlaw – had the square root of hee haw to do but he did all that was asked of him

Crane – a solid outing but Lewis won’t be losing his jersey any time soon

Porteous – another good performance. He has the physicality needed to make the step up. He was the best of the back line

Waugh – went off in the second half after a sore challenge on him. A decent outing

Blake – on trial. Im not sure he did enough

Pennant – good lively start where he was fouled a fair bit. Drifted out of the game for a period where the formation prevented either him or Swanson getting enough of the ball. Maybe the last time we will see him in a Hibs strip? Who knows…

Martin – worked his backside off fetching and carrying, hassling and harrying. A Martin masterclass

F Murray – a talented player and some nice football again tonight but maybe showed his lack of positional sense a few times

Swanson –  disenfranchised in the opening quarter due to little service, won a penalty well only to see a giraffe on rollerskates miss it

Shaw – potential is there, took his goal well but this is not the answer (yet) to replacing Jason

Graham – the good twin played on Sunday, this was the bad twin

I Murray – okay outing for a development game

Stirling – ditto

Mackie – not on long

Stanton and Handling – if we let these two go whilst our squad is still this bare then we need our bumps felt. They are not the answer but they showed that they are closer to the first team standard than most of the young uns on show tonight. It’s confidence, physicality and maturity. I dont think either has a long term future at the club but the cupboard is bare and they made a difference when they came on.

Squirrel – a wee cameo performance from the stands. He’s nuts.

Man of the Match – a choice between Martin and Porteous of the players who played most of the game. Man of the Second Half would have been Stanton, for me.

Have a good holiday in Spain @1875. I’ll be on duty again on Saturday. I hope not, erm, to make a pig’s ear of it…

SK11

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