Hibee History: Berwick brushed aside in League Cup
Hibs avoided a potential giant-killing act in the Scottish League Cup with a comfortable dismantling of Third Division side Berwick Rangers at Easter Road.
While it was the sort of scoreline which rarely earned the “big club” many plaudits in such a cup game, Colin Calderwood’s players deserved credit for taking care of a potentially tricky encounter given the troubles the Edinburgh side had encountered so far during this season with just one victory from their opening four league matches.
They simply gritted their teeth, rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job of ensuring those seeking pleasure in seeing them being toppled were left disappointed.
Over the course of the 90 minutes the gulf between the top and bottom tiers was all too evident, Berwick departing grateful not to have fallen victim to an even heavier defeat.
In all, Hibs managed 21 shots on Jamie Barclay’s goal, striking the woodwork twice in addition to the five they scored while striker Akpo Sodje, making his first start of the season, was probably left reflecting that, had he been fully up to speed, then he’d most likely have claimed five for himself rather than just the one he ended up with.
Sodje should have already opened the scoring before Martin Scott did so, crashing a shot from 25 yards beyond Barclay after just 11 minutes, his first goal for Hibs calming the nerves and lessening the notion some Berwick players had voiced that this might just be their night.
Former Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday hitman Sodje was only inches away from making it two as he just failed to make contact with Callum Booth’s low shot across goal before Lee Currie cracked the ball off his own post as he attempted to clear Ivan Sproule’s cross.
There was an eagerness and an energy about Hibs which had Berwick toiling, Garry O’Connor epitomising the home side’s effort as he willingly dropped off the front to link play, setting up that early Sodje chance and then creating another which, on this occasion, his team-mate made no mistake as he drilled the ball into the far corner.
Two goals up at half-time quickly became four with less than an hour played, O’Connor scoring for the fourth game in succession as he came in behind Sodje to meet Sproule’s inviting cross to power home a header before Scott got his second of the game. At this point Hibs were threatening to simply over-run Berwick, 19-year-old Scott Smith, a replacement for Booth at half-time, enjoying his competitive debut not only with a string of superb crosses but with the confidence to step forward and unleash a shot which Barclay just managed to push onto his crossbar.
Another Smith cross should have been turned home at the back post by Sodje who later showed great presence of mind to intercept Steven Thompson’s back pass only to spoil the moment by going for goal himself rather than pass for the well placed David Crawford.
Sproule claimed his first goal since returning to Hibs three minutes from time to complete a satisfactory night’s work.
Hibs: Brown, Wotherspoon, Booth, Hanlon, O’Hanlon, Palsson, Scott, Galbraith, Sproule, Sodje, O’Connor.