Christian Doidge ends his goal drought as Hibs edge closer to realising season's ambitions
Hibs went into the match aware of the opportunity they had to set a new club record for away league wins in a season and while the draw at Livingston means they will have to wait until after the split to have another go at reaching that landmark, the draw eased them closer to an even more rewarding achievement.
Aberdeen’s defeat at Tannadice saw the Easter Road side move seven points clear of their closest rivals in the battle for third place and while no-one in the Leith ranks will allow themselves to believe that their best league finish in 16 years is in the bag, with just five games remaining it will take an unimaginable turnaround of fortunes to deny them.
In fact, the Dons will now be anxiously casting a glance over their shoulder as Livingston make a push to usurp them in fourth.
It will be a hugely impressive feat for the West Lothian side, considering their budget and where they were when David Martindale took the managerial reins at the back end of 2020, but for a club who can count on one hand the number of top three finishes they have enjoyed in recent decades, there should be no underplaying Hibs’ level of success if they get the job done.
Manager Jack Ross made just one change to the starting line-up with Kevin Nisbet getting the nod ahead of Chris Cadden. Last weekend’s matchwinner has been named in Steve Clarke’s Scotland squad and he looked buoyant. But it was his strike buddy Christian Doidge who was to steal the limelight against Livingston.
For the second week in a row Hibs conceded first but managed to bounce back.
Struggling to get a foothold in the game in the first half, they were forced to go long as Livinsgton adopted an in-your-face approach, giving them very little time on the ball when they tried to move it from back to front on the deck. Too often they found their pockets being picked as they dawdled in possession and Livingston came close with efforts from Allan Forrest and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas while Ofir Marciano had to pull off a save from Craig Sibbald.
But he was unable to thwart him in the 28th minute when Jon Guthrie, sent a long ball forward and Ryan Porteous tried to be too cute with his headed pass back instead of clearing the danger back upfield. Lacking enough power or height, he opened the door for Sibbald to sneak in and slam the opener beyond the Hibs keeper from close range.
Hibs almost equalised straight away when Jackson Irvine played in Joe Newell but his effort couldn’t find the net.
In fact, it took Hibs until the 41st minute to level, when popular striker Christian Doidge netted his first goal in 16 games and was mobbed by his delighted team-mates.
His input in recent times has not been questioned but the goal will have been a relief.
He could have had a second after the break as Hibs had a much bigger say in proceedings but Nicky Devlin made a fantastic last ditch tackle to prevent him converting Martin Boyle’s cross. Boyle’s follow up was blocked by Jackson Longridge as the match ended in stalemate.