{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"hibs","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-marvin-bartley-i-thought-hearts-had-won-league-now-we-are-ready-to-catch-them-1-4890914","id":"1.4890914","articleHeadline": "Hibs’ Marvin Bartley: I thought Hearts had won league ... now we are ready to catch them","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552908802000 ,"articleLead": "

Marvin Bartley has claimed Hibs are ready to chase down city rivals Hearts, having closed the gap to the “team that he thought had won the league earlier in the season” to just two points.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890913.1552850054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs' Marvin Bartley competes with Gboly Ariyibi during the 2-0 win over Motherwell. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Goals from Marc McNulty and skipper David Gray earned the Easter Road side a 2-0 victory over Motherwell, a win which appears to have all but secured a place in the Premiership’s top six for Paul Heckingbottom’s side.

But having learned of Hearts’ surprise defeat by Hamilton only minutes after making it five league games without defeat and 13 points out of 15 since Heckingbottom took over from Neil Lennon, Bartley insisted they are intent on going even higher.

He said: “You chase the team above you and it just happens to be Hearts. They lost to Hamilton so we are closing the gap on them. There are enough games for us to catch them and go beyond them, so that’s our next aim.

“I thought they had won the league earlier in the season, the amount of messages I was getting from their fans, so it’s quite surprising that we are only two points behind them. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

“You can’t really get too excited until all the games are gone or you are mathematically too far ahead of another team. Maybe that shows the mindset of some people to think, ‘we’ve had a good start, they haven’t, so we’re miles ahead of them’. Now, we’re two points behind. We’ll see what happens but that is our next aim – to go ahead of them.”

Although Hibs endured that miserable run of just two league wins in 14 matches which sent them spiralling down the table, Bartley was adamant no-one at Easter Road had lost the faith, saying: “We have never been negative.

“We have always known what we could do. We are on a good run at the moment. You never get too high with the highs and too low with the lows. We believe in ourselves as a squad and as a club and we always think we are going in the right direction. I think we are showing that on the pitch.”

And that, he said, was underlined by the win over Motherwell, a side with just one defeat in eight games and only two points behind Hibs before they met at the weekend.

He said: “It was a brilliant win. We knew before the game that if we won we would be five points ahead of them. The lads were brilliant. They dug in deep at the end to keep a clean sheet. There were people throwing their bodies on the line. We were really delighted to get the win.

“But we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves and then next minute we have slipped up, finished seventh and it’s like ‘what happened?’

“We go to Livingston after the international break. It’s another big game, but we are in a healthy position at the moment.”

Everyone, however, is well aware that the final game before the split is the third Edinburgh derby of the season, a chance for Heckingbottom to further enhance his growing standing with the Hibs support.

Bartley said: “The first thing the manager said was that he wanted to be in the top six. That’s his aim. He very much puts building blocks in place. The first step is to be in the top six and then it’s always to chase the team above you.

“That’s the way he looks at it. That’s the mindset we have at the moment. When we do finish above them, I’m sure he will get a pat on the back and maybe a pint.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890913.1552850054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890913.1552850054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs' Marvin Bartley competes with Gboly Ariyibi during the 2-0 win over Motherwell. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs' Marvin Bartley competes with Gboly Ariyibi during the 2-0 win over Motherwell. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890913.1552850054!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/trialist-midfielder-named-in-hibs-squad-for-reserve-match-with-hamilton-1-4891370","id":"1.4891370","articleHeadline": "Trialist midfielder named in Hibs squad for reserve match with Hamilton","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552921016000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs have named trialist Kosta Sparta in their squad for the Reserve League match with Hamilton this afternoon.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891378.1552921968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kosta Sparta is currently on trial at Hibs from AFC Wimbledon. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The right-midfielder is currently with AFC Wimbledon in League One.

Although he is listed as a first-team player, the 19-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for the Wombles.

Australian-national Sparta was attached to Reading’s academy before making the move to Kingsmeadow in May 2018. He featured in 13 games for the Royals’ Under-18 side.

Following Sparta’s signing, AFC Wimbledon Development Squad and Academy boss Alan Reeves told the club’s website: “Kosta is technically a very good player.

“He does not give the ball away much and he showed a good attitude in training. He did not look out of place in first-team training, which is very important. Physically, he has things to work on, but he looks like a talented boy.

“Hopefully, Kosta will have that bit of hunger to do well after being allowed to leave Reading and he will hit the ground running when pre-season training starts.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891378.1552921968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891378.1552921968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kosta Sparta is currently on trial at Hibs from AFC Wimbledon. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kosta Sparta is currently on trial at Hibs from AFC Wimbledon. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891378.1552921968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5775052899001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/the-two-hibs-scottish-cup-heroes-locked-in-a-promotion-battle-1-4891287","id":"1.4891287","articleHeadline": "The two Hibs Scottish Cup heroes locked in a promotion battle","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552916093000 ,"articleLead": "

Nothing lasts forever, so the old adage goes, and by the time the 2016/17 Scottish Premiership season began, five of the players who had helped Hibs to their first Scottish Cup victory in 114 years had left Easter Road.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891280.1552917055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two former Hibees could be battling it out for promotion at the end of the season. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Goalkeeper Mark Oxley, who had played a part in victories over Raith Rovers and Hearts and his fellow ‘keeper Conrad “Polar Bear” Logan - whose heroics in the semi-final had secured Hibs’ passage to the final - left for Southend and Rochdale respectively.

Anthony Stokes, man of the match in the final thanks to his double, along with Liam Henderson, who notched the assists for Stokes’ second goal and David Gray’s winner returned to Celtic and Niklas Gunnarsson to Valerenga, following the end of their loan spells.

Fast-forward two and a half years, and Gunnarsson and Henderson’s paths are about to cross once again, but in very different circumstances.

Henderson was a bit-part player under Brendan Rodgers on his return to Celtic, with the midfielder featuring just 13 times, mostly from the bench, during the 2016/17 campaign - although he played enough games to pick up a league medal.

The following season he played just 23 minutes of football as a substitute and by January 2018, he had joined Italian side Bari on trial and signed a permanent deal later that month.

At the end of the 2017/18 season, Bari were declared bankrupt and Henderson became a free agent. He signed for Serie B side Hellas Verona in August last year.

Gunnarsson left his native Norway and joined Swedish Allsvenskan side Djurgardens in August 2016, making 55 appearances over three seasons and scoring three goals. He also tasted cup glory for a second time, helping Djurgardens to a 3-0 win over Malmo in the Swedish Cup final in May 2018.

Earlier this month, he signed an 18-month deal with Palermo in Italy’s second tier.

A point separates Verona and Gunnarsson’s new club going into the business end of the season, but a quick glance at the second-tier table reveals a number of teams are in the mix.

Brescia sit top of Serie B, with 50 points from 27 matches. Palermo are in hot pursuit, with 49 points from 27 matches. Verona lie in third with 46 points from 28 games. Three teams win promotion to Serie A - the league-winners are automatically promoted, along with the runners-up. But the third-placed side faces a play-off battle unless it commands at least a ten-point margin over the team that finishes fourth - currently Lecce, with 45 points from 27 games. Pescara could also enter the equation, currently sitting on 45 points from 28 games while Benevento (43 points from 27 matches) can’t be ruled out either.

Verona play Brescia the week before, and before April is up must play Benevento and Pescara. Palermo, on the other hand, face trips to Pescara on April 3 and Benevento on April 14.

On April 8, the two teams face off at Palermo’s Stadio Renzo Barbera in what could be a crucial game in the promotion run-in. There’s also the very real possibility that both players could be playing Serie A football next season.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891280.1552917055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891280.1552917055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two former Hibees could be battling it out for promotion at the end of the season. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two former Hibees could be battling it out for promotion at the end of the season. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891280.1552917055!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891284.1552917057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891284.1552917057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Liam Henderson and Gunnarsson celebrate the latter's goal against Queen of the South. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Liam Henderson and Gunnarsson celebrate the latter's goal against Queen of the South. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891284.1552917057!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891282.1552917061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891282.1552917061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gunnarsson is presented by Palermo after signing an 18-month deal with the Serie B title-chasers. iIcture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gunnarsson is presented by Palermo after signing an 18-month deal with the Serie B title-chasers. iIcture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891282.1552917061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-make-it-six-wins-on-the-trot-in-reserve-league-1-4891483","id":"1.4891483","articleHeadline": "Hibs make it six wins on the trot in Reserve League","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552928630000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs made it six wins on the trot as they beat Hamilton 3-1 in the Reserve League.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891482.1552928626!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lewis Allan was on target for Hibs at Hamilton"} ,"articleBody": "

Goals by Fraser Murray, Lewis Allan and Jamie Gullan gave the Hibees full points at the Hope CBD Stadium.

Hibs, who named AFC Wimbledon midfielder Kosta Sparta on the bench as a trialist, got off to the perfect start after just two minutes 
when the ball struck Fraser Murray on the back before crossing the line. Allan made it two on the half-hour, firing home the rebound after Ben Stirling’s shot was saved.

Accies pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time as Alex Penny smashed a shot home.

Gullan restored Hibs’ two-goal advantage six minutes after half-time following a fine passing move and the visitors held on to that lead.

Hibs: Dabrowski, Stirling, Donaldson, Waugh, Sadiki, Campbell, I Murray, Block, Allan, Gullan, F Murray. Subs: Martin, Paton, O’Connor, Woods, Shanley, Trialist.

• This article was compiled using updates on the offical Hibs Twitter account.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891482.1552928626!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891482.1552928626!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lewis Allan was on target for Hibs at Hamilton","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lewis Allan was on target for Hibs at Hamilton","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891482.1552928626!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hearts/the-major-football-rule-changes-that-will-impact-hearts-and-hibs-next-season-1-4891038","id":"1.4891038","articleHeadline": "The major football rule changes that will impact Hearts and Hibs next season","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552898922000 ,"articleLead": "

A number of changes have been made to the laws of the game ahead of the 2019/2020 season which will impact the Edinburgh clubs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891036.1552900181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibernian's Florian Kamberi and Hearts' Zdenek Zlamal exchange words as referee Andrew Dallas intervines. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker"} ,"articleBody": "

The International FA Board (The IFAB) met earlier this month in Aberdeen for their AGM where they outlined the amendments, including three which were approved following two years of experiments and consultation.

The changes and clarifications range from handball to over celebrating as The IFAB seek to give players, coaches and supporters greater clarity.

Handball

The handball rule is one which provokes plenty of confusion and controversy. Now more situations have been outlined where handball should and should not be penalised.

A deliberate handball remains an offence, and now the following situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:

• the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm

• a player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity

• the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger

• the ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The following will not usually be a free kick, unless they are one of the above situations:

• the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is near.

• the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger

•if a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger)

•If the goalkeeper attempts to ‘clear’ (release into play) a throw-in or deliberate kick from a team-mate but the ‘clearance’ fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball.

Goal kick

One of the biggest changes is to the goal kick. No longer will the ball have to be played outside the box before it is deemed in play. Players from either side can touch the ball inside the box.

IFAB said: “The experiment that at a goal kick the ball is in play once it is kicked, and does not have to leave the penalty area, has created a faster and more dynamic/constructive restart to the game. It has reduced the time ‘lost/wasted’ including stopping the tactic of ‘wasting’ time when a defender deliberately plays the ball before it leaves the penalty area knowing that all that will happen is the goal kick will be retaken.”

Opposition players have to be outside the box when the kick is taken, however.

Substitutions

Another of the big changes sees substitutions required to leave the field of play by the nearest point on the touchline/goal line - unless the referee indicates the player can leave quickly/immediately at the halfway line or a different point because of safety, injury etc.

The alteration will stop players from time-wasting.

Drop ball

The IFAB have sought to do away with contested drop balls. If play is stopped inside the penalty area the ball will be dropped to the goalkeeper, while outside the box it will be dropped to a member of the team who last touched the ball at the point it was played.

In all cases players from both sides need to be at least 4m (4.5 yards) away from the player who receives the ball.

It was felt that the “current dropped ball procedure often leads to a ‘manufactured’ restart which is ‘exploited’ unfairly (e.g. kicking the ball out for a throw-in deep in the opponents’ half) or an aggressive confrontation”.

Celebrating

Players will continued to be booked for over celebrating, for example removing the shirt. A yellow card will be shown even if the goal is disallowed.

Goalkeeper position on penalties

Goalkeepers are required to have at least part of one foot on/in line with the goal line when the kick is taken and cannot stand behind the line.

They are not allowed to be touching the goalposts/crossbar/nets.

Quick free kicks

Teams are now able to take a quick free-kick even if the offence is to be penalised by a yellow or red card. The referee can show the card at the next stoppage in play.

The IFAB state: “Occasionally, an attack is stopped by a cautionable (YC) or sending-off (RC) offence and the attacking team takes a quick free kick which restores the ‘lost’ attack; it is clearly ‘unfair’ if this ‘new’ attack is stopped to issue the YC/RC. However, if the referee has distracted the offending team by starting the YC/RC procedure, the quick free kick is not allowed.”

Walls at free kicks

Attackers are not allowed to be within 1m (1yd) of a defensive wall of three or more. An offence from the attacker will result in an indirect free kick.

The IFAB believe that attackers can “often cause management problems and waste time. There is no legitimate tactical justification for attackers to be in the ‘wall’ and their presence is against the ‘spirit of the game’ and often damages the image of the game”.

Cards for coaches

Management staff can now be shown a yellow or red card if guilty of misconduct. If the “offender cannot be identified, the senior coach who is in the technical area at the time will receive” the card.

Kick-off

Teams who win the toss can choose to either take the kick-off or which goal to attack. Previously the only choice was which goal to attack.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891036.1552900181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891036.1552900181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibernian's Florian Kamberi and Hearts' Zdenek Zlamal exchange words as referee Andrew Dallas intervines. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibernian's Florian Kamberi and Hearts' Zdenek Zlamal exchange words as referee Andrew Dallas intervines. Picture: SNS/Ross Parker","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891036.1552900181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1489591877499"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-reaction-marvin-bartley-hails-paul-heckingbottom-for-turning-hibs-season-around-1-4890910","id":"1.4890910","articleHeadline": "Hibs reaction: Marvin Bartley hails Paul Heckingbottom for turning Hibs’ season around","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552890600000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s scarcely believable that, a month ago, Hibs were sitting eighth in the Premiership table, five points off a top-six finish in a season which appeared to be drifting away from them.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890909.1552841214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom issues instructions"} ,"articleBody": "

Today, not only is that place in the top half of the league not only firmly in their grasp, all eyes are now now on catching Capital rivals Hearts, who previously had looked out of sight.

To put it down to a “new manager bounce” following the arrival of Paul Heckingbottom would be wrong. The turnaround has been going on far too long for that to be the case, 13 points out of a possible 15 testament to the work that’s gone on behind the scenes but also the fact he had inherited a decent squad of players who had been under-performing.

“You have to get used to managers coming and going,” said midfielder Marvin Bartley of the departure of Neil Lennon and Heckingbottom replacing him. “It’s just part of the game. The manager has set us up the way he wants to play. They are both very good managers in their own right. The hard work we are putting in on the training pitch is now starting to show on match days. It’s good.

“It’s not been disruptive because we have got a good bunch of lads there. The changing room and the mindset of the players is massive. If you have the wrong sort of people in there, they almost down their tools if the manager changes.

“That’s not happened. Everybody has taken on board what he has said. We have to continue to do that. We’ve not done anything yet. We have had a good start but, as you know, good starts don’t mean anything. The team down the road [Hearts] had a good start and now we’re two points behind them.”

In his early days in charge, Heckingbottom insisted he’d adopt a “slowly, slowly” approach for fear of overloading his players with too much detail as to what he wanted implemented, but it’s clear that even after only a few weeks his ideas are taking hold.

“Tactically, on the training pitch,” answered Bartley when asked what was the biggest thing the former Barnsley and Leeds United boss had brought to Easter Road. “He lets you know exactly what he wants from you. You run through different things that could happen in the match and it’s very much driven into players daily. If your mate goes there, where do you need to go? His organisation is very, very good.”

All of which was all too evident as Hibs dealt with the very real threat of Motherwell, the Premiership’s in-form team with only one defeat in eight matches and just two points behind before this game kicked off.

There was a structure and understanding despite a new 4-5-1 formation with Flo Kamberi operating wide on the left, Mark Milligan and Paul Hanlon composed and controlled in central defence, Stephane Omeonga adding a verve and energy in the middle of the park while Marc McNulty and Daryl Horgan linked together superbly to stretch the visiting defence time and again.

It was that combo which brought the opening goal, an exchange of passes seeing Horgan hit the bye-line for McNulty, whose shot struck the hands of Tom Aldred, the in-form striker dispatching the resulting penalty to celebrate his Scotland call-up with his seventh goal for Hibs.

Skipper David Gray powered home a header two minutes from the interval leaving the home side, who had survived a first minute scare when Lewis Stevenson turned a Gboly Ariyibi cross onto his own post, to manage the game out, content to keep Motherwell at arm’s length while looking to hit on the break.

Horgan should have finished it but goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, who had been rarely troubled, earned his clean sheet as he got down superbly to turn away Aldred’s late header.

But perhaps what has been all the more impressive fact behind Heckingbottom’s transformation is that it’s been done with a threadbare squad, his numbers further depleted for this one by Darren McGregor’s suspension leaving a bench which, other than Bartley, comprised of academy players.

“I was flipping baby-sitting wasn’t I?” said Bartley who himself is just back from an injury lay-off. “I was a grandad. I was looking across at them thinking, ‘there is not a beard in sight’. I haven’t got much of a beard myself.

“We will be in a better place after this break and a few of the boys are back. Big Daz was suspended and he will be available also. The squad might look a bit older.”

Having comfortably moved into the top six with three games to go before the split, Heckingbottom insisted targets have changed, revealing his players now have Hearts very much in their sights having heard of the Jambos’ surprise defeat at Hamilton as they arrived back in the changing room.

He said: “When we first came in we were quite a bit behind and the short term goal was the top six and it still is. The bigger picture is trying to get better all the time and we are displaying really good form at the minute. And if that becomes the norm our targets might be better next season.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890909.1552841214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890909.1552841214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom issues instructions","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom issues instructions","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890909.1552841214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/hearts-are-s-e-hibs-fan-who-had-stroke-utters-first-words-in-four-months-1-4890933","id":"1.4890933","articleHeadline": "‘Hearts are s***e’: Hibs fan who had stroke utters first words in four months","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552849321000 ,"articleLead": "

A Hibs fan who had a stroke has told how he shocked nurses by uttering his first words in four months - mocking rival club Hearts.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890932.1552849728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hibs fan, 22, was rushed to hospital where scans revealed he had suffered a stroke and had a bleed on the brain caused by a blood clot the size of a 10p coin. Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Darren Thomson, 22, lost all feeling in the left side of his body just 15 minutes after he developed a blinding headache.

The Hibs fan was rushed to hospital where scans revealed he had suffered a stroke and had a bleed on the brain caused by a blood clot the size of a 10p coin.

He had two operations to help drain the excess fluid in his brain, but he still couldn’t speak for three months due to a tube down his throat then brain damage.

Darren heard his nurses talking about how they supported rival team Hearts - and shocked them by blurting out his first words: “Hearts are s***e”.

And five months since his first words the young man’s speech is getting better every day.

He’s still in a wheelchair but hoping to be on his feet to be his dad’s best man at his wedding later this year.

Darren said: “It was so scary not being able to speak.

“It’s so hard to put into words what it’s like not being able to speak.

“I was so confused, I didn’t even know what was happening or anything.

“But when I had a Hearts doctor looking after me, someone had said ‘what’s Hearts’ and I just said ‘Hearts are s***e’.

“It just came to me, I was so happy that I spoke out, everyone laughed.

“It felt so good to just hear my own voice again.”

Darren was at home on June 5 last year watching YouTube videos with his friend when he started to feel a headache at the back and right side of his head.

The Hibs fan thought nothing of it until minutes later when he couldn’t feel the left side of his body.

His friend, Michael Alison, 21, lifted up Darren’s left arm but when he let it go it fell to his side.

He called Darren’s dad Phil, 55, who rushed to the scene and took Darren to Borders General Hospital where medics discovered he had suffered a stroke and had severe bleeding in his brain.

He was transferred to the Edinburgh Western General were medics drained the cerebrospinal fluid - a clear and colourless body fluid found in the brain and spinal cord.

Phil, from Galashiels, Scottish Borders, said medics did not think “he would make it”.

He said: “His face had not dropped and he didn’t have slurred speech.

“I was just confused about what was actually happening because he was also struggling to stand up.

“That’s why I ended up taking him to the local hospital.

“But when he was finally rushed to the Edinburgh Western General Hospital no one knew if he would make it and even medics didn’t have faith in the operation going well.

“It was so frightening to hear all of these negative thoughts.”

After the operation, Darren was put into intensive care with a life support machine for around 12 weeks.

He was taken off life support but needed a second operation to fix the tubes in his brain that would help his body drain the excess fluid naturally.

This is because if the fluid builds up in the brain it could put pressure on the brain, which can damage it.

He went under the knife again in August and a few weeks after the operation the tube running down his throat was removed.

But he still couldn’t speak due to the brain damage.

He was then transferred to the stroke ward at the Borders General Hospital in October.

This is where Darren shocked nurses when he said his first words after the two operations.

Phil explained: “He made a funny comment about how terrible Hearts were.

“This was because most of the nurses there were all Hearts fans.

“We all couldn’t believe it, I just laughed.”

He was there for five weeks before he returned home in early December last year.

Darren uses a wheelchair and requires a carer 24/7, but said he remains positive due to his dad’s support.

Darren said: “My dad’s been unreal. I just think if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today.

“I thank him so much for everything he has done”.

Phil, who is Darren’s full-time carer, said his son hopes he will be able to walk again for his wedding on June 15.

He said: “It’s difficult being a full-time carer but I’m a positive person.

“He does get frustrated when he can’t go out and see his friends but his brilliant, he doesn’t get down.

“He wants to stand at my wedding so we’ll see.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890932.1552849728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890932.1552849728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Hibs fan, 22, was rushed to hospital where scans revealed he had suffered a stroke and had a bleed on the brain caused by a blood clot the size of a 10p coin. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Hibs fan, 22, was rushed to hospital where scans revealed he had suffered a stroke and had a bleed on the brain caused by a blood clot the size of a 10p coin. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890932.1552849728!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-boss-paul-heckingbottom-s-message-to-hibs-fans-on-twitter-1-4890840","id":"1.4890840","articleHeadline": "Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom's message to Hibs fans on Twitter","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552827656106 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom took to Twitter to praise the team and thank the fans ahead of the international break.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890839.1552827787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom has overseen an upturn in form. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The Englishman led the Easter Road side to a crucial 2-0 home win over Motherwell on Saturday.

The victory saw Hibs open up a five point gap on their opponents in sixth place and subsequently close the gap to neighbours Hearts to two points.

Heckingbottom tweeted: \"Enjoyed my first month at @HibernianFC. In football it’s rarely plain sailing but hopefully you can see the hard work the team are putting in. Thanks for the support and see you after the internationals #Hibees\"

It has been largely positive introduction to life at Hibs and in Scottish football in general. Under the former Barnsley and Leeds United coach the Hibees have won four of their five league matches - more than in the 17 games which preceded his appointment.

They also defeated Raith Rovers in the Scottish Cup before exiting to Celtic.

Hibs are now only seven points from third place with Europe a possibility if they continue their current trajectory.

However, Heckingbottom is focusing on securing a top six berth and overtaking Hearts.

\"The lads are talking about it in there [the dressing-room] after seeing the [Hearts] result,\" he said. \"Being really clinical about it, they are the next team in front of us. Whoever it is, we ask can we catch them. We'll try our best.

\"We spoke about the top six when we first came in and that we were quite a bit behind. Short-term goal is top six and it still is - that's what we're aiming for.

\"The bigger picture is trying to get better all the time and we're displaying really good form at the minute.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "joel.sked@JPress.co.uk" ,"author": "Joel Sked"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890839.1552827787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890839.1552827787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Heckingbottom has overseen an upturn in form. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom has overseen an upturn in form. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890839.1552827787!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"3000000001858428"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/what-hibs-are-getting-in-former-orlando-city-defender-jonathan-spector-1-4890833","id":"1.4890833","articleHeadline": "What Hibs are getting in former Orlando City defender Jonathan Spector","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552827023814 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs completed the signing of former Manchester United, West Ham and Birmingham defender Jonathan Spector on Friday night following his release from MLS side Orlando City. Here’s what the Easter Road side can expect…

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890831.1552827269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jonathan Spector plays the ball during an MLS clash between Orlando City SC and New York City FC at the Orlando City Stadium in March 2017"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Versatile

A centre-back by trade (although he started life as a striker), Spector has filled in at left-back for West Ham as well as defensive midfield for the Hammers and Birmingham while the majority of his games for the Blues came at right-back. Orlando utilised Spector as a centre half, with the former US international starting a handful of games at left-back during an injury crisis.

With Ryan Porteous and Steven Whittaker currently sidelined for the foreseeable future, and on-loan Leicester defender Darnell Johnson nursing an ankle injury, Spector’s ability to fill any role in the backline as well as in front of the back four provides Hibs with some much-needed, experienced cover.

He would also allow Hibs to operate with three at the back without sacrificing Mark Milligan from midfield and would be able to step in in the event of injury or suspension to Paul Hanlon or Darren McGregor.

He’s had his injuries

Orlando were tipped for greatness in the 2018 MLS season, with Spector captaining the side, but a series of injuries for the 33-year-old and his team-mates forced the Lions to endure a nightmare campaign. The former Manchester United kid played just 13 times, missing ten matches in the opening part of the season through concussion, while a muscle injury sidelined him for six games in July and early August.

A knee injury kept him out of action for a month in the 2017 season while he suffered a series of injuries that disrupted his spells at West Ham and Birmingham, including tearing a thigh muscle on two separate occasions with the latter.

However, prior to agreeing a short-term deal with Hibs, Spector was boosting his fitness levels at the club’s East Mains training complex and an extended period of time out will have helped his recovery.

He’s highly-rated and well-respected

Journalists covering Orlando City’s exploits in the 2017 and 2018 seasons spoke highly of Spector’s ability and what he brought to the team. Writing for The Maneland blog, Ben Miller said he felt the Lions’ defence “tended to look more settled” when Spector played, and that he “plays hard, smart soccer and makes the players around him better”.

Spector was reportedly the fourth-highest paid player at Orlando, earning a base salary of around £432,000 a year - about £8300 a week - rising to £478,000 with bonuses or “guaranteed compensation”. This put him on a higher base wage than former Arsenal and Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna and ex-Arsenal and Chelsea full-back Ashley Cole, hinting at how highly Orlando rated him.

Spector has worked under a string of well-known managers - Sir Alex Ferguson gave him his debut as a youngster at Manchester United, while Alan Pardew brought him to West Ham for around £500,000, where he was later coached by Alan Curbishley, Gianfranco Zola and Avram Grant.

Chris Hughton, current Brighton boss, took him to Birmingham and at international level he was part of squads picked by Bruce Arena, Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann.

He’s got plenty of experience

As well as spells in MLS and more than 250 appearances combined in the English Premier League and English Championship, Spector has European experience from his time at Birmingham and West Ham, appearing in the UEFA Cup and its successor the Europa League. He played in wins over Portuguese side Nacional, as well as wins over NK Maribor (twice), and Club Brugge.

On the international stage, Spector missed out on the 2006 World Cup but did help the USA to Gold Cup glory in 2007 and was part of the team that reached the final of the 2009 Confederations Cup before losing to Brazil in the final. He registered an assist - his second of the tournament - for Clint Dempsey’s opener.

He also featured in three of America’s 2010 World Cup qualifiers, but was an unused sub for all four matches in South Africa. His last involvement with the national team came in friendly matches against Brazil and Costa Rica in September and October 2015.

Stand-out moments

As mentioned, Spector won the Gold Cup in 2007 and a runners-up medal in the 2009 Confederations Cup with the US, but he also scored a memorable double for West Ham against former club Manchester United - his first goals in English football - in a 2010 League Cup quarter-final. Coincidentally, the United 'keeper was Spector's future Birmingham team-mate Tomas Kuszczak.

Spector was also a recipient of the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year award during his time at Manchester United, following in the footsteps of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Wes Brown and Phil Neville.

" ,"byline": {"email": "patrick.mcpartlin@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Patrick McPartlin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890831.1552827269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890831.1552827269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jonathan Spector plays the ball during an MLS clash between Orlando City SC and New York City FC at the Orlando City Stadium in March 2017","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jonathan Spector plays the ball during an MLS clash between Orlando City SC and New York City FC at the Orlando City Stadium in March 2017","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890831.1552827269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890832.1552827270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890832.1552827270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jonathan Spector keeps a close eye on Lionel Messi during a friendly match between the USA and Argentina in New Jersey, March 2011","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jonathan Spector keeps a close eye on Lionel Messi during a friendly match between the USA and Argentina in New Jersey, March 2011","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890832.1552827270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/talking-point-paul-heckingbottom-deserves-so-much-credit-for-hibs-revival-1-4890696","id":"1.4890696","articleHeadline": "Talking point: Paul Heckingbottom deserves so much credit for Hibs revival","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552765953000 ,"articleLead": "

Wednesday, January 23. 9.37pm. Fir Park. Referee Bobby Madden blows for full time and Motherwell earn a 1-0 win over Hibs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890695.1552765936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom congratulates Marc McNulty at the end of Hibs v Motherwell. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "


The Easter Road players trudge off the pitch, digesting a damaging defeat that appeared to terminate their Europa League qualification hopes and jeopardise their top six ambitions. The result left Hibs languishing eighth in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

Two days later and we learn that Madden's whistle also blew time on then head coach Neil Lennon's Hibs tenure, his final match at the helm turning out to be that insipid 1-0 defeat in Lanarkshire as he was suspended by the club.

Fast forward to Saturday night and Hibs skipped off the Easter Road turf celebrating a 2-0 win over the very same Motherwell, a result that moves them five points clear in sixth place. Arithmetically, Hibs haven't secured their place in the top six, but they are almost there. One more win before the split should do it.

A lot has happened in the period between that aforementioned night in January and a much more merrier March date from a Hibs perspective. Lennon's exit, a couple of player departures, some fresh recruits and, the largest of them all, a new boss in Paul Heckingbottom.

The amiable Yorkshireman has reinvigorated Hibs. He's dragged the club up from its bootstraps. Make no mistake, Hibs were floundering under Lennon. The spark had gone. Trouble was in the air. Heckingbottom has galvanised a squad shorn of numbers and confidence. He's found a system that suits the players at his disposal. He has created an environment in which his players can flourish. Remember, Hibs are yet to lose in the league under him, beating Hamilton, Dundee, St Johnstone and Motherwell, while drawing with Rangers. His only defeat came to Celtic in Scottish Cup.

Hibs were five points off the top six when he arrived; now they have a five point cushion with three games remaining before the league halves. He's getting the best out of Florian Kamberi, Daryl Horgan, Mark Milligan and Vykintas Slivka, men who were losing their way under the previous regime. He's instilled tactical discipline to the squad. Okay, he's had Marc McNulty and Stephane Omeonga to work with - Lennon put the wheels in motion for those deals - but he's also operating without Ryan Porteous, Ryan Gauld and Martin Boyle. There is a positive air around the club.

Heckingbottom will tell you that his work has just begun and he's right. His unbeaten run in the league won't last forever. However, he's laid some pretty solid foundations. He's got Hibs playing again. They are now taking dead aim at Hearts, only two points clear of the Hibees in fifth. They are only seven points behind Aberdeen, who occupy third place. Talk of a Europa League spot seemed far-fetched a few weeks ago but it's not totally beyond the realms of possibility now.

Heckingbottom now has 12 days to continue his good work with the squad before they travel to Livingston on March 29. Then they host Kilmarnock, before a derby at Hearts. That trio of fixtures appeared daunting a few weeks ago, but such is the atmosphere around the club right now, Hibs will approach them with some relish.

Hibs now have a lot of play for as the season enters its denouement and that is largely down to Heckingbottom. It may still be early days in his stewardship, but he's given Hibs their mojo back in a pretty short space of time, and for that he deserves immense credit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "mark.atkinson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Mark Atkinson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890695.1552765936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890695.1552765936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Heckingbottom congratulates Marc McNulty at the end of Hibs v Motherwell. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom congratulates Marc McNulty at the end of Hibs v Motherwell. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890695.1552765936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/i-m-feeling-very-optimistic-about-things-right-now-hibs-fans-react-to-win-over-motherwell-1-4890681","id":"1.4890681","articleHeadline": "'I’m feeling very optimistic about things right now' - Hibs fans react to win over Motherwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552760722790 ,"articleLead": "Hibs fans were delighted after the 2-0 win over Motherwell ...","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890680.1552760876!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano takes the ball during the game against Motherwell. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "


Fans were purring on Facebook with the performance ...


Alistair Rae: "Great today, should've been more than two, never under any pressure."

Lenny Toshack: "Excellent performance and a comfortable 3 points, well done Heck and the boys."

Kevin Urquhart: "We are looking goooood."

Mike Elliott: "Brilliant game by the hibees GGTTHS"

There was also a lot of love for the display on fans forum hibs.net ...

Mango Man: "It really was night and day compared to the last game against them, we controlled it really from start to finish, great team performance."

HFC_NYC: "It was excellent. That's exactly what football is all about. Solid defending and flowing football. You really can't ask for more. The only downside I can see would be that McNulty and Omeonga are unlikely to be here next season. Also, special mention to Marvin Bartley....absolutely solid."

Ozhibby: "Great performance all round. Milligan and Hanlon excellent at the back, omeonga busy in midfield and McNulty class up front. Stand out for me was Mallan though. Best performance for a while."

There was some strong praise for Paul Heckingbottom too ...

howdenthehibby: "PH sure knows how to set up a team , his philosophy is now starting to catch on.Can't wait to see what he can do with some of his own signings added to this squad."

HFCEighteen75: "I’m feeling very optimistic about things right now and whatever happens next he’s earned the right to build his own squad this summer and give the league a real crack next season."

Mcpakeisgod: "Always a wee lift when someone new comes in , but for some reason this chap is filling me with confidence . There’s no doubt Lennon had to go so looking forward to this new chapter!"

Sean1875: "Night and day to how things were when Lennon left, very very encouraging start and that’s with a team that is still depleted with injuries too!"

" ,"byline": {"email": "mark.atkinson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Mark Atkinson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890680.1552760876!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890680.1552760876!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano takes the ball during the game against Motherwell. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano takes the ball during the game against Motherwell. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890680.1552760876!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-2-0-motherwell-mcnulty-and-gray-strikes-tighten-hibs-grip-on-top-six-finish-1-4890622","id":"1.4890622","articleHeadline": "Hibs 2-0 Motherwell: McNulty and Gray strikes tighten Hibs grip on top six finish","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552759516000 ,"articleLead": "

Marc McNulty celebrated his first Scotland call-up with his seventh Hibs goal to send the Easter Road side on the way to victory over Motherwell.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890621.1552755198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marc McNulty turns away in celebration after opening the scoring for Hibs against Motherwell"} ,"articleBody": "

The on-form striker netted from the penalty spot after his shot had been blocked by the hands of Motherwell defender Tom Aldred. Captain David Gray powered home a header to double Hibs lead before half-time, those goals proving enough to give the Capital outfit a five point advantage over the Steelmen in that battle for a top six finish.

Not only that, it sees them now hot on the heels of city rivals Hearts who sit a place above them in the table.

Hibs endured a huge scare within 30 seconds of the start, Gboly Aiyibi racing past David Gray to make the bye-line before drilling over a low cross which Lewis Stevenson turned against his own post.

Having enjoyed that escape Hibs almost conjured up a goal of their own, Stephane Omeonga's run and pass finding McNulty who fed it wide for Daryl Horgan to deliver an inviting cross which found the striker's head. McNulty, barely six yards out, directed it downwards but the legs of goalkeeper Mark Gillespie came to Motherwell's rescue.

And it was that McNutly-Horgan partnership which brought the opening goal, the striker's clever flick setting his team-mate free. Horgan made good ground before cutting it back into the path of McNulty who saw his shot hit the arm of Aldred, leading referee Kevin Clancy to point to the spot, McNulty stepped up to apply his usual accomplished finish to give Gillespie no chance even although the goalkeeper had gone in the right direction.

Even although they only had that solitary goal, Hibs looked well in control and added to their tally six minutes before the interval, Gray getting his head to Stevie Mallan's corner to bullet the ball beyond Gillespie.

Hibs, however, lost Gray to injury only two minutes into the second half. The club skipper had been struggling after picking up an early knock and his departure resulted in Lewis Stevenson switching to right back as Sean Mackie took over on the left.

With that two goal cushion there was no real demand for Hibs to go seeking a third - as welcome as that would have been - Paul Heckingbottom's players content to keep Motherwell at arm's length while waiting for that opportunity to hit on the break.

And Horgan should have done exactly that when Macie's cut-back came to his feet, the winger dragging his shot horribly wide with the goial gaping.

Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano had hardly been troubled but the Israeli internationalist pulled off a terrific save eight minutes from time, getting down low to knock away Aldred's header.

Hibs: Marciano, Gray (Mackie 47), Milligan, Hanlon, Stevenson, Slivka (Bartley 72), Mallan, Omeonga, Horgan (F Murray 85), Kamberi, McNulty,

Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Shaw, I Murray, Allan.

Motherwell: Gillespie, Grimshaw, Aldred, Dunne, Tait, Campbells (Frear 66), Rodriguez, Turnbull, Hastie, Main (Scott 66), Ariyibi (Johnson 76)

Substitutes not used: Ferguson, McHugh, Hartley, Donnelly.

Referee: Kevin Clancy

" ,"byline": {"email": "david.hardie@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "David Hardie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890621.1552755198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890621.1552755198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Marc McNulty turns away in celebration after opening the scoring for Hibs against Motherwell","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marc McNulty turns away in celebration after opening the scoring for Hibs against Motherwell","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890621.1552755198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/three-things-we-learned-from-hibs-2-0-motherwell-1-4890673","id":"1.4890673","articleHeadline": "Three things we learned from Hibs 2-0 Motherwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552759098395 ,"articleLead": "

Mark Atkinson picks out three Hibs-related observations from Saturday's clash with Motherwell ...

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890672.1552759194!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs celebrate their second goal. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Awesome Omeonga

Stephane Omeonga put on midfield masterclass against Motherwell. It was probably the best individual performance from a Hibs midfielder since the halcyon days of John McGinn, Dylan McGeouch and Scott Allan last season. He did everything you want from a central midfielder - snapping into tackles, crisp, accurate passing and surging runs through the heart of the pitch. He was called into the Belgium Under-21 squad this week and it's clear Hibs have a classy operator on their hands. Head coach Paul Heckingbottom tried him out on the wing to begin with as he sussed the player out early in his tenure, but he soon realised he is best used in the centre. The only downside for Hibs is that he's not their player as he's on loan from Genoa. For now, it's best to enjoy his performances on the pitch - and off it, with regular piano-playing posts Instagram. He'll be a huge asset for the Hibees between now and the end of the campaign.

Maestro Milligan

Veteran Australian midfielder Mark Milligan was asked to move from central midfield to defence to help cover for the suspended Darren McGregor. It's not an altogether alien role for Milligan - he has played at centre-half for his country - but with Hibs, he's been used there sporadically. Up against the aggressive and lively Curtis Main, Milligan did not put a foot wrong alongside Paul Hanlon. He was sound with his positioning and won most aerial duels. After a sticky winter, Milligan is starting to blossom again as spring arrives. His manager now knows he has a dependable centre-half as well as a midfielder.

Hibs' discipline

Hibs deserve a lot of credit for the way they shut Motherwell up in the second half. Despite losing right-back and captain David Gray to injury on 48 minutes, the defence was rock-solid and the whole team kept their shape. The midfield tracked the visitors' runs forward, while Florian Kamberi and Daryl Horgan made sure that Well's wingers were not allowed a free pass at the full-backs too often. Heckingbottom has his team well-drilled and disciplined and it paid off in securing the points here.

" ,"byline": {"email": "mark.atkinson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Mark Atkinson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890672.1552759194!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890672.1552759194!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs celebrate their second goal. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs celebrate their second goal. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890672.1552759194!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-paul-heckingbottom-top-six-is-still-the-goal-but-hearts-are-in-our-sights-1-4890657","id":"1.4890657","articleHeadline": "Hibs' Paul Heckingbottom: Top six is still the goal - but Hearts are in our sights","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552758056000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom says Hibs are targeting Capital rivals Hearts as well as a top-six spot after a crucial 2-0 win over Motherwell in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890656.1552759467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with Hibs' performance against Motherwell. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

First-half goals from Marc McNulty and David Gray secured all three points for Hibs at Easter Road. The result moved sixth-placed Hibs five points clear of the Steelmen in seventh place with just three games remaining before the split. Moreover, Hibs are now just two points behind fifth-placed Hearts after the Jambos lost 1-0 to Hamiltion Accies.

\"The lads are talking about it in there [the dressing-room] after seeing the [Hearts] result,\" said Heckingbottom with a smile.

\"Being really clinical about it, they are the next team in front of us. Whoever it is, we ask can we catch them. We'll try our best.

\"We spoke about the top six when we first came in and that we were quite a bit behind. Short-term goal is top six and it still is - that's what we're aiming for.

\"The bigger picture is trying to get better all the time and we're displaying really good form at the minute.

On the performance against Motherwell, Heckingbottom added: \"We showed them massive respect for being the form team in the league and also because as games are running out, they become more dangerous as they are throwing everything at you, which they did in the last 15 minutes.

\"We knew it would take a good performance to beat them.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "mark.atkinson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Mark Atkinson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890656.1552759467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890656.1552759467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with Hibs' performance against Motherwell. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom was pleased with Hibs' performance against Motherwell. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890656.1552759467!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/how-the-hibs-players-rated-in-2-0-victory-over-motherwell-1-4890635","id":"1.4890635","articleHeadline": "How the Hibs players rated in 2-0 victory over Motherwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552757213000 ,"articleLead": "

Marks out of ten for the Hibs players involved in Saturday's match against Motherwell ...

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890634.1552756175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephane Omeonga shields the ball in midfield for Hibs. Pic: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Ofir Marciano: Organised his defence well and made excellent save from Tom Aldred's header to preserve Hibs' 2-0 lead. 7

David Gray: Strange afternoon for the captain. Toasted by Gboly Ariybi in opening minute which nearly cost Hibs a goal. Recovered well, only to pick up injury, then scored second goal. Replaced soon after break due to his knock. 7

Mark Milligan: Moved back into central defence in Darren McGregor's absence. Showed his experience and nous with an impeccable display. 8

Paul Hanlon: Marshalled defence superbly and kept Curtis Main quiet. Getting back to his best. 8

Lewis Stevenson: Early scare when he hit own post, but after that he was faultless. Switched over to right-back in second half yet remained unflustered. 8

Stevie Mallan: Tasked with anchoring midfield three. Stuck to his guns and put in a sumptuous delivery for Gray's goal. 7

Vykintas Slivka: Straight back into team after ban. Some nice passes and penetrating runs. Replaced by Marvin Bartley on 70 minutes. 7

Stephane Omeonga: Probably his best performance in a Hibs shirt. Diligent passing, strong tackling, but it was effortless driving runs - a little like John McGinn - that made him stand out from rest. Dominated the midfield. 9

Daryl Horgan Got into promising positions on numerous occasions, but final ball or finish let him down too often. 6

Florian Kamberi: Selfless performance out on the left flank. Stayed disciplined, created some chances and tracked back when needed. 7

Marc McNulty Took his penalty really well and movement was a constant menace to Motherwell. Missed some good chances though despite his goal. 7

Sean Mackie: Despite an early booking, he settled well in left-back role and ably assisted when going forward too. 6

Marvin Bartley: Came on to bolster defensive side of team and put himself about. 5

Fraser Murray: One nice pass but had so little time to impress. 4

" ,"byline": {"email": "mark.atkinson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Mark Atkinson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890634.1552756175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890634.1552756175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stephane Omeonga shields the ball in midfield for Hibs. Pic: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephane Omeonga shields the ball in midfield for Hibs. Pic: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890634.1552756175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-manager-paul-heckingbottom-to-use-cap-calls-to-attract-new-stars-1-4890329","id":"1.4890329","articleHeadline": "Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom to use cap calls to attract new stars","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552717800000 ,"articleLead": "

Paul Heckingbottom believes Marc McNulty becoming the latest Hibs player to enjoy international recognition can only help attract future signings to the club.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890327.1552665856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marc McNulty has been selectedby Scotland manager Alex McLeish for the first time"} ,"articleBody": "

The striker will fly out with Alex McLeish’s Scotland squad tomorrow night for the Euro 2020 qualifying matches against Kazakhstan and San Marino after being called up for the first time.

But McNulty is just one of a clutch of Hibs players who will be heading off to represent their countries, Vykintas Slivka called up by Lithuania and Ofir Marciano by Israel for Euro qualifiers, and Gael Bigirimana by Burundi for their final Africa Nations Cup qualifying match while Oli Shaw and Sean Mackie are in the Scotland Under-21 squad which will play friendlies against Mexico and Sweden next weekend. Moreover, Stephane Omeonga was yesterday called into the Belgium Under-21 squad.

However, while Slivka, Marciano, and Bigirimana have all been capped in the past, McNulty will be hoping to make his Scotland debut after swapping the nightmare of being frozen out by English Championship outfit Reading for Easter Road, where he’s already claimed six goals.

And, said Heckingbottom, McNulty’s story is one he can use when hoping to persuade future signing targets that they, too, can flourish in a green and white jersey.

“It’s fantastic,” said the Hibs head coach. “It’s not just Scottish recognition, we have players away all over the world so it’s a good place for them to come and play.

“They then have the confidence that their national bodies are watching them and we’d be foolish not to use that in future recruitment.”

However, while delighted for McNulty, Heckingbottom revealed that he’ll be telling him ahead of today’s crunch Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Motherwell he’s not only playing for the three points but to enjoy an active part in one or other – or even both – of Scotland’s matches.

He said: “I have to remind him he’s playing for a starting place now. He’s got a call-up, but depending on how he does he might get minutes on the pitch.

“It’s reward for him, wanting to come and play, it shows that’s where you will be judged. I’m sure they will have been watching him from his time at Coventry and to see how he does in the next step up.

“It didn’t work out, as yet, for him at Reading, but he’s come here to play, got the exposure, got the goals, got the performances, shown how fit he is, so it’s a no-brainer for them to have a look at him.

“It’s a real opportunity, it’s a carrot dangling there.”

As good as McNulty has done Heckingbottom believes there is still plenty of room for improvement for a player who’s 28 goals for Coventry earned him a £1million move to Reading last summer.

But while determined to help McNulty, the Hibs boss admitted that in doing so he might just harm his chances of extending the player’s loan deal at the end of the season.

He said: “It was his time at Coventry where lots of people started watching him, he showed a lot of consistency to his game. But it was a big jump up from League Two to the Championship, probably the biggest thing you find is the physicality and how athletic the players are.

“But we were aware of him and he has shown exactly what I’d imagined of him. He’s not surprised me in any way, I sort of expected him to be like this, so that’s pleasing.

“He is going to have a lot to learn but he is a good footballer, he’s got a good brain on the pitch and, as you have seen, he can score goals, right foot, left foot, getting across people for crosses.

“We just have to keep pushing him. He’s not the finished article, he has to keep working. If you stop working you are going to be at the level you are forever or you are going to go backwards. He has to keep striving to get better.”

Heckingbottom has given “lots of thought” to keeping McNulty, who still has more than three years of his Reading contract to run, and he conceded there were many factors which would determine what the future holds for the player.

“The one thing we know, and Marc understands, is how good we can be for each other. We will cotninue to keep pushing and improving him. We may be the place to keep doing that, but we may not because we may do it to such an extent where we rule ourselves out financially.

“I’ve got used to that over the years, that’s just the way it is, but that’s then the selling point to go and get the next one.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890327.1552665856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890327.1552665856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Marc McNulty has been selectedby Scotland manager Alex McLeish for the first time","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marc McNulty has been selectedby Scotland manager Alex McLeish for the first time","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890327.1552665856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-head-coach-paul-heckingbottom-could-refresh-starting-line-up-for-visit-of-motherwell-1-4890356","id":"1.4890356","articleHeadline": "Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom could refresh starting line-up for visit of Motherwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552717800000 ,"articleLead": "

Paul Heckingbottom conceded he’ll have to be “creative” when it comes to deciding on his starting line-up for the visit of Motherwell today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890449.1552678489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom has injuries in his squad"} ,"articleBody": "

It is a game which could have a significant say in Hibs’ bid to finish in the top half of the Premiership table, the Capital side going into the match in sixth and two points ahead of the Steelmen with only four fixtures remaining before the split.

He said: “A lot of hard work has been done, but we are still not guaranteed that place. We have a team that’s probably, and arguably, in just as good, if not better, form than us in Motherwell so we know how tough it is going to be.

“Their approach will be just the same as us but they might be even more dangerous because they’ll be thinking they are running out of games and may see it as a last chance. Any more defeats could put paid for them. These games will be like cup finals to them and we have to be ready for that.”

To that end, Heckingbottom revealed he’ll be looking for a repeat of the performance which produced a point from the clash with Rangers, Hibs hitting back to equalise through Flo Kamberi after enduring a testing first half in which Daniel Candeias had put the Ibrox club ahead.

He said: “Every single point is vital but in order to get as many points as possible you want to see that sort of character, spirit, that sort of response.

“I think that in the first half we arguably showed even more character. It would have been easy – and no way would I want to see if from any of my teams – but you see lots of teams when it is that tough and difficult against an opponent many would say should win, to roll over – but we didn’t.

“At half-time we spoke about still being in the game, that they [Rangers] had given their absolute best. They were really good first half, that’s apparent when you watch it back, but we took it all and then it was about us and how we could hurt them.

“There were lot so things in that performance which were pleasing, but we are going to need all of that again today.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890449.1552678489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890449.1552678489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Heckingbottom has injuries in his squad","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom has injuries in his squad","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890449.1552678489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibee-history-anthony-stokes-at-the-double-to-secure-semi-final-1-4889832","id":"1.4889832","articleHeadline": "Hibee History: Anthony Stokes at the double to secure semi-final","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552717201000 ,"articleLead": "

Inverness CT 1, Hibs 2. Scottish Cup quarter-final replay. Wednesday, March 16, 2016

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889831.1552651614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs striker Anthony Stokes salutes the fans at full-time"} ,"articleBody": "

It was a sweet night for Anthony Stokes, who should have scored a hat-trick for Hibs. But he was content with the two goals that proved just enough to overcome an Inverness side that eventually presented the considerable challenge expected.

Stokes’ return to goalscoring form came at the expense of Caley boss John Hughes, who tried to sign the striker on loan from Celtic in January. While Stokes had every right to feel satisfied it was a mixed night for Mark Oxley, whose second booking of the competition for time wasting means the goalkeeper is suspended for the semi-final.

But Oxley will have grounds for some complaint since he lost a contact lens in the clash after which he was cautioned. He was eventually replaced by Otso Virtanen. The Finnish keeper managed to see-out the seven minutes of added time – though not without some nervy moments.

The late drama threatened to eclipse Stokes’ earlier contribution.

It provided what some might contend was overdue evidence of his worth to Hibs’ cause. Caley’s hopes went up in a puff after the Irish striker emerged from the icy haar that drifted in from the Moray Firth to clinch victory for the visitors.

The fog of their post League Cup final hangover has now cleared for Hibs. While their priority might be the league the Easter Road side have more than a century’s worth of unfinished business in the Scottish Cup.

This was a victory to cherish given recent events. It was unquestionably hard-earned after Inverness’ strong second-half showing. The holders pulled a goal back through Iain Vigurs with 13 minutes left and spurned several other opportunities to equalise.

But how the Hibs fans celebrated at the end. While they might still feel some tenderness after Sunday’s League Cup final defeat by Ross County at the national stadium, Hibs can now redeem themselves there next month against Dundee United, whose manager Mixu Paatelainen was an interested spectator here.

The shift from deadlock to Hibs enjoying the comfort of a two-goal lead was sudden. But, following Inverness’ bright start, the visitors had begun to impose themselves on the proceedings. Stokes showed a glimpse of his undoubted class when setting himself to strike on goal after Lewis Stevenson’s cross. He moved back a step before unleashing a right foot shot into the corner of Owain Fon Williams’ goal after 36 minutes.

His second, four minutes later, was equally instinctive as he slid in to convert after Jason Cummings’ shot was saved by Fon Williams and following good work down the right by Liam Henderson.

But Inverness should have retrieved the deficit in a second half in which they scored once and might have had three goals. Their sole goal, with 13 minutes left, roused the Caley Stadium. Iain Vigurs drove in after he was left unmarked at the far post after Hibernian failed to clear two successive crosses.

Carl Tremarco had missed from a similar area early shortly after half-time, while only Liam Hughes will know how he managed to stub a shot over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box after Richie Foran’s cross.

Inverness CT: O Fon Williams, D Devine, G Warren, J Meekings, C Tremarco (L Polworth, 73), L Horner (D Williams, 62), N Wedderburn (M Storey, 62), I Vigurs, R Draper, R Foran, L Hughes. Subs not used: R Esson, J Roberts, R Williams.

Hibernian: M Oxley (O Virtanen, 88), L Stevenson, D Gray, D McGregor, L Fontaine, J Keatings (N Gunnarsson, 80), M Bartley, L Henderson, J McGinn, A Stokes, J Cummings. Subs not used: M Boyle, D Handling, K Thomson, F El Alagui, C Dagnall.

Referee: S Finnie.

Att: 3207.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4889831.1552651614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889831.1552651614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hibs striker Anthony Stokes salutes the fans at full-time","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hibs striker Anthony Stokes salutes the fans at full-time","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4889831.1552651614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-sign-defender-jonathan-spector-on-a-short-term-deal-1-4890448","id":"1.4890448","articleHeadline": "Hibs sign defender Jonathan Spector on a short-term deal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552675730000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs have announced that they have signed defender Jonathan Spector on a short-term deal until the end of the season, subject to international clearance.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890447.1552676895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jonathan Spector trains at East Mains"} ,"articleBody": "

Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom told www.hibernianfc.co.uk: “Jonathan offers experience, quality and versatility in an area where we haven’t had much cover recently.

“He’s made a great impression on everyone since he arrived and it’s easy to see why he’s had the career he’s had. We look forward to having him as an option when we’re back from the international break.”

After spending time at the Hibernian Training Centre in recent weeks to build up his fitness in anticipation of the move, Spector cannot wait to get going and establish himself as soon as possible.

He said: “I’m excited to be here. With the MLS season finishing I’ve been off for a little bit but I’ve been here for a couple of weeks now and it’s been a great transition period to get used to everything.

“I understand the expectations of the manager and I was able to get a feel for the club having gone to a couple of the home matches.

“I’m certainly ready to get going to help the team and the club in whatever way I can. “I’m certainly ready to get going to help the team and the club in whatever way I can.”

The 33-year-old, capped 36 times for the United States, was a free agent after being released by Orlando City.

As well as playing for Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, the defender has also played for West Ham United and Birmingham City.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890447.1552676895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890447.1552676895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jonathan Spector trains at East Mains","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jonathan Spector trains at East Mains","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890447.1552676895!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-stephane-omeonga-called-up-to-belgium-under-21-squad-1-4890297","id":"1.4890297","articleHeadline": "Hibs’ Stephane Omeonga called up to Belgium Under-21 squad","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552663814000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs midfielder Stephane Omeonga has been named in the Belgium Under-21 squad for next week’s friendly with Denmark.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890296.1552663810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephane Omeonga has been called up to the Belgium Under-21 squad. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The match is part of the Red Devils’ preparations ahead of the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Italy in June, and the on-loan Genoa man could win his sixth cap if he features against the Danes.

Omeonga, who has made 12 appearances for the Easter Road side since signing on loan in January, will be aiming to cement his place in Johan Walem’s squad ahead of Euro 2019.

He featured against Cyprus and Hungary in the Euro 2019 qualifiers, and played against the Netherlands, Italy and Romania in friendly matches, registering an assist against the Romanians in a 3-3 draw.

Omeonga told the Evening News in January that one of the factors behind his decision to join Hibs was securing a place in the European Championship squad.

He said: “At the moment I just think about the Euros in the summer. I want to be in that team. I cannot take the risk to not play and not make that tournament. It’s a big thing in my career, to play in something like that.

“I have faith I can make Belgium’s senior squad. I don’t see why I can’t. I’m in the under-21s, so I’ve shown that I have the quality to be there. If you don’t have ambition, don’t play football.”

Belgium senior squad boss Roberto Martinez, speaking earlier on Friday, said: “There are five or more Under-21 [players] who catch the eye. But we want to give our young players the best opportunities to develop.”

“The UEFA Under-21 European Championship will be a unique chance for our Under-21s to experience international football and show their talent in a specific competitive manner.”

Omeonga joins goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, striker Marc McNulty and midfield colleague Vykintas Slivka in earning international call-ups ahead of next week.

Daryl Horgan was part of Mick McCarthy’s provisional Republic of Ireland squad but did not make the cut when it was slimmed down ahead of the matches against Gibraltar and Georgia.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890296.1552663810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890296.1552663810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stephane Omeonga has been called up to the Belgium Under-21 squad. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephane Omeonga has been called up to the Belgium Under-21 squad. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890296.1552663810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-head-coach-paul-heckingbottom-hits-out-at-fan-for-taking-credit-away-from-draw-with-rangers-1-4890226","id":"1.4890226","articleHeadline": "Hibs head coach Paul Heckingbottom hits out at fan for taking credit away from draw with Rangers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552660004000 ,"articleLead": "

Paul Heckingbottom admits he is still frustrated that the actions of one fan prevented his Hibs players from taking credit for securing a point against Rangers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890224.1552659999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom feels his players didn't get enough credit for drawing with Rangers due to one fan's actions. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

A 1-1 Easter Road draw last Friday was overshadowed by a Hibs supporter leaping onto the touchline to confront Rangers captain James Tavernier. A 21-year-old man later admitted breaching the peace in court.

Heckingbottom said: “It ruined the evening for me, the players, the rest of the people at the club and I’m sure the majority of the fans.

“Everyone was asking me, not just press, about that incident because it was all over the news and the sports news.

“It’s frustrating because the players never got the credit they deserved, and the club’s getting tarnished in a way that’s not a true representation of all the fans that are attending.

“You feel a little bit let down and I’m sure a lot of people felt that way.”

Hibs and their supporters have the chance to make headlines for the right reasons when they host Motherwell on Saturday in a game which could prove pivotal in the race for the Ladbrokes Premiership top six.

Hibs are two points ahead of their visitors in sixth spot and Heckingbottom expects Motherwell to throw everything at his side.

“Everyone’s found them difficult to beat, they are on a fantastic run of form and they are chasing, so they are dangerous - they are hungry,” he said.

“For all intents and purpose they could have been approaching these last few games with a must-win attitude because they were far behind and it’s probably similar this week - ‘we must win to get in the top six’.

“Games are running out and they are still chasing, so it means for a dangerous team with nothing to lose.

“So regardless of how the pattern of the game goes, at some point they will be throwing everything at us, and we have to be ready for that.

“We are in a good position. Looking at Motherwell’s games coming up, they have some tough ones, so again that will influence their approach.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890224.1552659999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890224.1552659999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Heckingbottom feels his players didn't get enough credit for drawing with Rangers due to one fan's actions. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Heckingbottom feels his players didn't get enough credit for drawing with Rangers due to one fan's actions. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890224.1552659999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-v-motherwell-preview-makeshift-defence-same-formation-top-six-aspirations-1-4890106","id":"1.4890106","articleHeadline": "Hibs v Motherwell preview: Makeshift defence | Same formation? | Top six aspirations","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552652580000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs welcome Motherwell to Easter Road on Saturday in what will be a big game in the battle for a top six spot.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890104.1552652689!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephane Omeonga will likely come up against Motherwell's Allan Campbell once more. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

The head-to-head record is finely balanced this season, with Hibs winning in Leith on the first day of the season and ‘Well prevailing in the return fixture at Fir Park.

Hibs are without seven players as they look to record a fourth league win under Paul Heckingbottom. Midfielder Ryan Gauld is back in training but still some way off first-team action, while wing duo Thomas Agyepong and Martin Boyle are also sidelined. Utility man Steven Whittaker remains out with a groin injury while on-loan Leicester defender Darnell Johnson is nursing an ankle knock.

Centre-back Ryan Porteous is also out while his defensive colleague Darren McGregor sits this one out through suspension, so Mark Milligan will slot into defence alongside Paul Hanlon.

A win for Motherwell would put the Fir Park side in the top six for the first time this season but a Hibs victory would strengthen Paul Heckingbottom’s aspirations of securing a top six spot for the Hibees.

Motherwell have won seven of their last ten, while Hibs have recorded five wins in ten, including a four-game streak in February under Heckingbottom.

The former Leeds boss won praise for his tactical switch against Rangers, swapping a 4-4-2 for a 4-5-1 with Florian Kamberi out wide. He could look to do similar this time if required, but is expected to start with his favoured 4-4-2.

The opposition

Motherwell appeared to be a club on the wane as they won just one of their first nine Premiership matches, a dismal record for a side which had surprised everyone by reaching the finals of both the Scottish and Betfred Cups last season.

Early exits from the cup competitions seemed to support that view as manager Stephen Robinson attempted to rebuild a squad which had lost important figures such as striker Ryan Bowman, midfielder Andy Rose and defender Cedric Kipre.

Robinson has also had to contend with a lengthy injury list which had robbed him of players such as Trevor Carson, Chris Cadden and Craig Tanner, while changing the style of football Motherwell play, which made them one of the most physical sides in the top flight.

If there was an early struggle to adapt, the signs are that Robinson’s players have now totally embraced the new approach, having lost just one of their last eight league matches – away to Celtic – while the only other point dropped in that spell was at Rugby Park.

A 1-0 win over Hibs, who had comfortably beaten the Steelmen on the opening day of the season, sparked that run, their goal coming from David Turnbull who, along with fellow teenager Jake Hastie, has helped bring a new-found confidence to Motherwell, the pair along with Gboly Ariyibi adding plenty of pace to the side.

Motherwell players to watch

As mentioned, Gboly Ariyibi brings pace and trickery to ‘Well’s left-hand side and could give David Gray a busy afternoon. Jake Hastie and David Turnbull need little introduction - the pair have hit the ground running and will provide a constant threat.

Injuries / suspensions / unavailable

Hibs: Thomas Agyepong (hamstring), Adam Bogdan (concussion), Martin Boyle (knee), Ryan Gauld (recovery), Darnell Johnson (ankle), Ryan Porteous (knee) and Steven Whittaker (groin) are all likely to miss out while Darren McGregor is suspended after being sent off against Rangers.

Motherwell: Trevor Carson (DVT), Chris Cadden (recovery), Craig Tanner (knee), Christian Mbulu (eye) and Ross McCormack (calf) are all missing for Motherwell.

Possible teams

Hibs (4-4-2): Marciano, Gray, Milligan, Hanlon, Stevenson; Mallan, Omeonga, Slivka, Horgan; Kamberi, McNulty. Subs from: Dabrowski, Waugh, Mackie, Bartley, Bigirimana, F Murray, Allan, Shaw.

Motherwell (4-3-3): Gillespie; Grimshaw, Aldred, Dunne, Tait; Campbell, Gorrin, Turnbull; Hastie, Main, Ariyibi. Subs from: Ferguson, McHugh, Frear, Johnson, Donnelly, Hartley, Scott.

Magic number - 12

The number of goals scored in the last five meetings between the two teams - Motherwell have scored four to Hibs’ eight.

Key battle

Marc McNulty will be aiming to get on the scoresheet again - he’ll have to negotiate Tom Aldred on his way to Mark Gillespie’s goal, however. The tussle between Stephane Omeonga and Alex Rodriguez Gorrin could be a feisty one too.

Key stats

Motherwell’s last victory at Easter Road came in August 2013 - but the Steelmen have won four, drawn one and lost one in 2019. David Turnbull is ‘Well’s top scorer with eight, putting him on an equal pegging with Florian Kamberi.

Referee

Kevin Clancy is the man in the middle for this match and will be assisted by Graeme Stewart and Anthony Cooper. David Munro is on fourth-official duties.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890104.1552652689!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890104.1552652689!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stephane Omeonga will likely come up against Motherwell's Allan Campbell once more. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephane Omeonga will likely come up against Motherwell's Allan Campbell once more. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890104.1552652689!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/scottish-football-live-old-firm-face-epl-battle-for-starlet-gerrard-s-transfer-plans-celtic-return-for-park-levein-eyes-three-signings-hibs-boss-hits-out-at-rangers-ref-1m-killie-defender-wanted-1-4890000","id":"1.4890000","articleHeadline": "Scottish Football Live: Old Firm face EPL battle for starlet | Gerrard’s transfer plans | Celtic return for Park? | Levein eyes three signings | Hibs boss hits out at Rangers ref | £1m Killie defender wanted","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552647681000 ,"articleLead": "

Follow The Scotsman’s daily blog as we keep you updated with all the latest news, views, rumours and much more from around Scottish football.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889998.1552647677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Craig Levein hopes to retain Steven Naismith. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson"} ,"articleBody": "

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4889998.1552647677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889998.1552647677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Craig Levein hopes to retain Steven Naismith. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Craig Levein hopes to retain Steven Naismith. Picture: SNS/Craig Williamson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4889998.1552647677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5788006182001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/what-a-game-this-will-be-journalists-predictions-for-hibs-v-motherwell-1-4889995","id":"1.4889995","articleHeadline": "‘What a game this will be’ - Journalists’ predictions for Hibs v Motherwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552647636000 ,"articleLead": "

Our online team give their predictions ahead of Saturday’s meeeting between Hibs and Motherwell at Easter Road

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889994.1552659226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Hanlon and Curtis Main will meet again on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group"} ,"articleBody": "

Mark Atkinson

I would have predicted a home win had it not been for centre-half Darren McGregor’s suspension. He played very well against Rangers and his physicality against the rumbustious Curtis Main will be missed. Mark Milligan will move from midfield to replace him and that creates a problem for Hibs, as the Australian has been in good form as an anchor midfielder and isn’t as adept in defence. Marvin Bartley is off the boil right now, so whether he comes in to midfield is debatable. Motherwell’s midfield tyro David Turnbull needs addressing and Hibs must cut the supply to wingers Gboly Ariyibi and Jake Hastie. Of course, Hibs have their own threats in Flo Kamberi and Marc McNulty, so a score draw is on the cards. I’ll stick my neck on the line and say this is going to be a humdinger that will end 2-2 or 3-3. Prediction: Draw

Anthony Brown

For all that Hibs have improved in the league under Paul Heckingbottom recently, they are yet to beat a team in the type of form that Motherwell have shown since the turn of year. The Edinburgh side felt the force of Stephen Robinson’s resurgent team in Neil Lennon’s last match in charge in January and should be under no illusions about the level of performance they will have to reach if they are to have a chance of picking up three points this weekend. Marc McNulty, one of the league’s form strikers, could be the difference-maker in what promises to be a tight encounter. Prediction: Hibs win

Craig Fowler

I don’t have a good feeling about this one for Hibs. While ‘new manager bounce’ is a bit of a myth in terms of it being an effect for all situations, there’s no doubt certain teams get a lift from a new manager coming in with fresh ideas. Hibs got that with Paul Heckingbottom but, even though their last two games could scarcely have been harder against both Celtic and Rangers, the way the hosts approached both games should provide cause for concern. Motherwell, meanwhile, are on a roll and with David Turnbull excelling as one of the best midfielders in the league, regardless of age, they’ve got the tools to expose Hibs. Prediction: Motherwell win

Neil McGlade

This is a huge game for both clubs make no mistake about it. Hibs are currently in pole position for a top-six finish but have this weekend’s visitors breathing down their necks. A win for the hosts would open up a five-point gap, should St Johnstone also fail to beat St Mirren, with just three matches remaining before the split. It would be a huge psychological boost for Paul Heckingbottom and his players. Defeat, however, would pass the baton back to the Steelmen. I expect a few goals in this one with Hibs just shading it. Prediction: Hibs win

Patrick McPartlin

You’d have to go back to August 2013 for the last time Motherwell won in Leith, and I can see their winless streak continuing, with Paul Heckingbottom having moulded his team into a hardy defensive unit when required, as evidenced against Rangers last week. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses and the arrival of Gael Bigirimana at Easter Road could prove useful in identifying Motherwell’s weak spots. It would be foolish to dismiss the talents of David Turnbull and Jake Hastie, however - especially against a makeshift Hibs defence - but the Hibees’ determination to seal a top six spot should make this an intriguing encounter. Prediction: Score draw

Joel Sked

The game of the weekend and what a game it is set to be. At half-time of the draw with Rangers last Friday it was understandable if fans had some early concerns regarding Paul Heckingbottom. The manager had continued with the same 4-4-2 formation - albeit with Stevie Mallan in place of Vykintas Slivka - that failed to lay a glove on Celtic. It was overrun by Steven Gerrard’s men. But the Englishman changed it and in the end Hibs could have won. Motherwell are one of the few teams in the league on an upward trajectory with seven wins from nine. A lot has been made of young Scots Jake Hastie and David Turnbull - and rightly so - but Gboly Ariyibi, on loan from Nottingham Forest, has been a really exciting addition and was key in the 3-0 thumping of Hamilton last week. He could cause David Gray all sorts of problems if given the chance to run at the full-back again and again. It is one of a number of fascinating battles across the pitch. Easter Road is the place to be on Saturday to see an entertaining game. Prediction: Draw

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4889994.1552659226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889994.1552659226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paul Hanlon and Curtis Main will meet again on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paul Hanlon and Curtis Main will meet again on Saturday. Picture: SNS Group","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4889994.1552659226!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6014353024001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/sport/football/hibs/hibs-striker-marc-mcnulty-aims-to-round-off-perfect-week-with-win-over-motherwell-1-4889808","id":"1.4889808","articleHeadline": "Hibs striker Marc McNulty aims to round off perfect week with win over Motherwell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1552631422000 ,"articleLead": "

Hibs striker Marc McNulty is determined to join up with the Scotland squad for the first time on a high after helping the Easter Road side take a huge stride towards clinching a top-fix finish by beating Motherwell tomorrow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889807.1552596668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marc McNulty has scored six goals since joining Hibs"} ,"articleBody": "

The Capital club go into the match two points ahead of the Fir Park outfit and four in front of St Johnstone with only three games remaining thereafter before the split, Paul Heckingbottom’s players are well aware of the significance of the outcome of the game.

But, having seen his six goals since he returned to Edinburgh on loan until the end of the season help lift Hibs from eighth to sixth and earn him a place in Alex McLeish’s squad for the Euro 2020 qualifying ties against Kazakhstan and San Marino, McNulty is keen to add to that already impressive tally.

The 26-year-old said: “It’s the biggest game of our season. Whoever takes the three points is in the better place to get that top-six spot so we know the importance of the game.

“We have spoken about that and the bottom line is we want the win to keep us above them and give us a little bit of breathing space going into the next game.”

McNulty, however, argued that he and his team-mates won’t be able to breathe easy even if they do win against a Motherwell side which has suffered only one defeat – away to Celtic – in their last eight league games.

He said: “Regardless of the result, I don’t think top six would be assured as there are still a lot of points to play for and, in football, anything can happen. The gap would still not be big enough for us to take our foot off the gas even if we did win.”

McNulty may not have scored in last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Rangers but it was his pass which supplied the equalising goal for Flo Kamberi, a further indication, he believes, of a strengthening partnership with the Swiss striker.

He said: “I think when we have been playing as we have with two up front, you have to chip in with a couple of assists. You are always going to get judged on scoring goals by the fans and the press, but I think the most important thing is if you are providing assists and putting in performances then your team-mates and your manager will see that and at times that is just as good as a goal.

“Flo is bringing out the best in me and I’m bringing out the best in him and the partnership is getting stronger and stronger as the games go on.

“Getting something from the Rangers game was massive. We will probably look back on that in a couple of weeks time and, hopefully, recognisde that it was a massive point in getting us into the top six.

“It is points like that which help you get you where you want to be.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4889807.1552596668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4889807.1552596668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Marc McNulty has scored six goals since joining Hibs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marc McNulty has scored six goals since joining Hibs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4889807.1552596668!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}