Hibs reaction: Home pride inspires Neil Lennon's team
Both Neil Lennon and Derek McInnes insisted it was far too early in the season to draw any conclusions from the outcome of this match.
Certainly, just three games in it probably is rather premature to read too much into it, but what appears clear is that, however the Premiership turns out come May, these two sides won’t be too far apart in the final shake-up.
Last season, Aberdeen finished six points better off than Hibs who took everyone by surprise on their return to top-flight football, taking the fight for second place to the penultimate game of the season before being forced to settle for a nevertheless highly-creditable fourth spot.
While the Dons held the upper-hand in their head-to-heads with Hibs, their encounters, bar a no-show by the Capital side at Pittodrie, were tight affairs – and this clash was very much in that vein.
Lennon and McInnes could probably make a case as to why they believe their team should have taken all three points, the Hibs head coach possibly able to make the more convincing argument given the possession, territory and chances his players had enjoyed.
However, it was those old failings from this time last year that haunted Hibs again and saw them unable to turn the openings created into goals – although Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis did pull off one stunning save to deny Daryl Horgan – and that old frailty at the back, a sloppy goal conceded as Stevie May was given the time and space to nod a deep cross back into the danger area where Tommie Hoban stabbed home at the second attempt.
Hibs, though have quietly turned Easter Road into something of a fortress, unbeaten on their own turf since mid-December and a record they are in no hurry to relinquish, Jamie Maclaren ghosting in at the back post to meet Paul Hanlon’s cross with only four minutes remaining on the clock.
“We take pride in our home record,” said Martin Boyle. “We are so determined to keep performing here and give the fans something to scream about. We felt, against Aberdeen, that we gave away a silly set-piece goal but the fact that we’re not losing at home is a real source of pride.
“We do draw on that when we’re chasing a game. We always believe we can win and score at home. Aberdeen really did make it difficult for us, sitting in like they did. Their defensive record speaks for itself. So it was scrappy at times but we plugged away and got that goal.
“It is a compliment that Aberdeen were sitting in. In the last 20 minutes, we were really going for it – so they had to sit deep and were hanging on. We were pressing them and creating chances.
“When Jamie Maclaren comes on the pitch, you always know you have a chance, with him sniffing about. We do feel there is always a goal coming here. We’re creating a lot of chances and should be scoring more goals, to be honest.
“But it’s better than not creating enough chances. We just need to be a bit more clinical on that side.
“We got what we got out of that game by creating chances.”
As happy as he had been with his side’s first-half display – in which they might have had a penalty when Aberdeen defender Andy Considine bundled Boyle over while the Dons believed referee Andrew Dallas blundered in not pointing to the spot when Hanlon appeared to trip Lewis Ferguson – Lennon admitted the loss of that goal changed his half-time talk from being complementary to a rollicking.
Boyle said: ‘The manager did let us know how annoyed he was with the goal we lost.
“Every goal we concede, it’s a rollicking!
“The manager always tells us we live and die at set pieces. So it’s annoying to lose a goal from a corner.
“They hadn’t been troubling us, they had that one shot, so we made it hard for ourselves losing a goal just a minute before half-time.
“I thought it was a penalty. Obviously I don’t think he was going for the goal, I was favourite to get the ball and he blocked me.
“But they can go either way. They had one that went against them. So I think the referee evened it up.
“We gave away that set piece before half-time, we thought we might get countered more when we came out attacking in the second half – but it was just that set piece that killed us.”