Sam Stanton enhanced his hopes of earning a recall to Hibs’ starting XI by scoring a hat-trick in the Under-20s’ 4-1 drubbing of their Rangers counterparts at Ainslie Park last night.
The midfielder hasn’t featured in any of the last three first-team games. After appearing in 24 successive matches, the 20-year-old was left out the squad entirely for the League Cup win at Ross County a fortnight ago, with head coach Alan Stubbs explaining that he was being given a rest. Stanton returned to the squad for the last two games – against Rangers and Raith Rovers – but remained an unused substitute.
However, he will be hopeful of featuring against Dumbarton this weekend after illuminating Joe McBride’s first game in charge of Hibs Under-20s. Hibs dominated much of the first half but chances were few and far between, with the only notable incident coming when Callum Crane shot off target.
The game burst into life midway through the second half when Ryan Hardie took a pass from Daniel Stoney and fired Rangers ahead against the run of play in 68 minutes.
Stanton spectacularly equalised after 74 minutes when, after collecting a pass from Crane just past the halfway line, the midfielder lobbed Lee Robinson, with the ball smacking the inside of the post before nestling in the net.
Three minutes later Stanton slotted home his second.
With 85 minutes on the clock Alex Harris received a pass from Stanton and rolled the ball beyond Robinson to make it 3-1. Stanton sealed his hat-trick – and a fine maiden win for McBride – as he rounded Robinson and tapped in with the goal at his mercy three minutes from the end.
Hibs Under-20s: Perntreou, Dunsmore (Sinclair 84), Crane, Martyniuk, McGregor, Handling, Harris, Martin, L Allan, Jake Sinclair, Stanton. Unused substitutes: Brennan, McCaffrey, Duthie, Todd.