Hibs Colts are out of the Irn-Bru Cup at the first time of asking after a 2-1 defeat to SPFL League 2 side Elgin City at Ainslie Park.
Grant Murray’s youngsters were the better team over the course of the 90 minutes, but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. The visitors, meanwhile, took their opportunities when they arrived and can now look forward to Thursday afternoon’s second-round draw.
Elgin had taken a first-half lead through a Chris McLeish header before Fraser Murray’s superb free-kick restored parity just minutes into the second half. But a Stephen Bronsky header with just a minute to spare snatched victory for City.
The hosts included Lithuanian striker Deivydas Matulevicius in the starting line-up with Murray, Oli Shaw and Ryan Porteous the other notable inclusions.
Indeed, it was 18-year-old Porteous, who has starred in some of Hibs’ Betfred Cup group matches this season, that donned the captain’s armband.
The youthfulness of both sides ensured it was a high-tempo opening. Shaw showed good strength to break free from midway inside the Elgin half as he bore down on goal. However, his strike from distance left a lot to be desired as it cleared the supporting net behind Mark Waters’ goal landing in a local resident’s back garden.
The visitors posed their first threat after a quarter of an hour. Jamie Reid collected a pass 20 yards from goal and with some neat trickery he created space for a 20-yard effort that flew past Polish goalkeeper Maciej Dabrowski’s right-hand post.
It was the League 2 club that edged in front from their next venture forward. A corner from the right was played into the path of Jon-Paul McGovern, who had gone completely unnoticed by the Hibs defence, and from his flighted cross Chris McLeish was on hand to power home a header from inside the six-yard box.
Hibs responded, though, and Matulevicius used his aerial threat to reach Callum Donaldson’s cross, only for his measured header come back off the crossbar.
However, Chris Dood went close to doubling the Borough Briggs side’s lead just before the interval, but dragged his shot wide before McLeish was denied by a fine Porteous block after Dabrowski had been beaten to the ball by the Elgin forward.
Hibs, though, were level three minutes after the restart. Matulevicius, who had his back to goal, was clattered by Darryl McHardy and up stepped teenager Murray to bend his shot away from the diving Waters and into the net from 20 yards.
McGovern then drew a decent stop from Dabrowski as the Morayshire side went in search of a quick response before, at the other end, Shaw failed to direct a Matulevicius cross on target.
Despite Elgin having lost five of their six competitive matches so far this term, Jim Weir’s part-timers were accomplished in the final third.
A fantastic run by Hibs’ Adam Watson down the right almost paved the way for Murray’s second of the night, but this time his effort grazed the side netting having let fly with his left foot.
The hosts had strong appeals for a penalty turned away by referee Alan Newlands when the ball appeared to strike McHardy’s left arm with little more than ten minutes remaining.
The visitors now seemed content to try their luck in a penalty shootout but continued to press forward on the counter. And, their efforts were rewarded in the final minute when Thomas Reilly’s corner was met by Bronsky at the back post and his looping header went over the outstretched arms of Dabrowski and into the far corner.
Hibs Colts manager Grant Murray said: “The scoreboard doesn’t lie so it’s disappointing. It’s not like us to lose two goals from two set-plays. We had a lot of ball in the second half and I thought that Adam Watson and Fraser Murray were excellent, but we just couldn’t get that second goal.
“The guys have got more minutes under the belt so we’ll need to go again next week with the start of the league campaign.”
Hibs Colts: Dabrowski, Donaldson, Mackie, Porteous, Waugh, Stirling, Watson, Martin, Matulevicius, Shaw, Murray. Subs: Martin, O’Connor, Gullan, Paton, Gallantes.
Elgin City: Waters, Eadie, Smith, McHardy, Bronsky, McGovern, Reid (Ferguson 81), Cameron, McLeish (Allan 64), Reilly, Dood (Sutherland 75). Subs: Dear, McKinnon.
Referee: Alan Newlands.