Aberdeen 0, Hibs 0: Talking points as penalty miss, profligacy, and player's return take centre stage

Aberdeen and Hibs shared the points in a goalless draw at Pittodrie on Saturday, with Kevin Nisbet seeing a late penalty saved by Kelle Roos in a moment that could have a huge bearing on the final cinch Premiership table.
Kelle Roos foils Kevin Nisbet from the penalty spotKelle Roos foils Kevin Nisbet from the penalty spot
Kelle Roos foils Kevin Nisbet from the penalty spot

With Jake Doyle-Hayes missing through concussion protocol, Josh Campbell started in midfield as Lee Johnson made one change to his team. The Easter Road side started strongly and arguably should have been ahead at the break but a lack of composure, good goalkeeping, and dogged defending kept the score down.

Hibs had countless chances in the second period but poor decision-making, the woodwork, and last-ditch tackles ensured a repeat of the first 45.

Paying the penalty?

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Hibs haven’t had an awful lot of VAR decisions go their way this season so when Nick Walsh pointed at the spot following a lengthy check and a period of time studying the replays, it looked as though the Easter Road side’s luck might have changed. Nisbet is normally pretty reliable from 12 yards – 13/17 attempts have been goals – but he hadn’t had the best of games up until the spot-kick award and when he opted to go straight down the middle and Roos saved with his legs it summed up Hibs’ afternoon. There were other candidates who would have been comfortable taking the kick but who wouldn’t back Nisbet nine times out of ten in that situation? A lot depends on other results but it might just have been a save that secured third place for the Dons. It called to mind Jamie Maclaren missing a penalty in another Pittodrie stalemate in May 2018, when Hibs and the Dons were battling for second. Hibs ended up finishing fourth that season but you imagine after the rollercoaster of the last season, they would take that end result.

Profligate Hibees

Hibs hit the woodwork on three occasions, as well as finding Roos in fine form when they did manage to breach the backline. Profligacy in front of goal was a theme under Shaun Maloney and it hasn’t quite gone away during Lee Johnson’s tenure. The Easter Road boss emulated former England cricket coach David Lloyd’s ‘we flippin’ murdered ‘em’ comment when he insisted Hibs had dominated Aberdeen but he was right. Hibs had double the number of goal attempts as their hosts – 16 to eight – and looked a threat any time they went forward. While a repeat of January’s 6-0 game was unlikely, if things had clicked in the final third Hibs might have enjoyed a rare convincing win at Pittodrie.

McKirdy returns

After three matches as an unused substitute, and a second, arguably more serious, social media faux-pas of the season, Harry McKirdy was introduced to the action on 73 minutes in place of Chris Cadden. It was a vignette we have seen before: a couple of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’; stick from the opposition fans, and a run-in with an official culminating in a deserved yellow card. After Johnson’s remarks earlier this week it would seem safe to assume that the forward’s future at Hibs remains uncertain – if Mykola Kukharevych had been passed fit to play, would McKirdy have even got on the park? The next few games could tell us even more about his time ahead.