Edinburgh City 1, Hibs 6: Lennon’s team clinical at Meadowbank

Darren McGregor scored the opener for Hibs. Picture: SNS
Darren McGregor scored the opener for Hibs. Picture: SNS
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Hibs made the short journey across Lochend Park to blow their near-neighbours Edinburgh City away with a four-goal salvo in the space of just 26 first-half minutes.

Darren McGregor, Jason Cummings, Martin Boyle and Dylan McGeouch had Gary Jardine’s side reeling as the Easter Road outfit spared them little mercy.

But while Neil Lennon’s side dominated from start to finish they failed to add to that tally, Ousman See taking advantage of a defensive lapse to grab a consolation goal for the home team with quarter of an hour to go.

However, with the part-timers tiring, James Keatings added a fifth for Hibs before Alex Harris, who had just forced a superb save from substitute goalkeeper Gregor Amos, rolled the ball inside for Danny Handling to slide home a sixth for the Championship outfit in the dying seconds.

Barely a stone’s throw separates Easter Road from Meadowbank, making this somewhat unique Edinburgh derby, SPFL newcomers City led out by captain Dougie Gair holding the Lowland League trophy while Hibs skipper David Gray, to the loud cheers of the predictably large Hibs support. who made up 2087 of the 2522 crowd, carried the Scottish Cup.

Adding a little more intrigue to the clash was the appearance on opposite sides of the Cummings brothers, Hibs top scorer Jason, and his older sibling, Dean, recently signed from Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale where they had both spent their earlier years.

Unsurprisingly, it was Jason who enjoyed the game’s first clear-cut chance, Dylan McGeouch’s pass intended for Danny Carmichael finding it’s way to the striker who was thwarted by good save from Andrew Stobie, the City goalkeeper throwing himself down low to his left to touch the ball away. Martin Boyle was instantly on it, driving the ball back across goal but with Jason at the back post facing an empty net City defender Shaun Harrison made a terrific clearance.

A goal for Hibs, though, was only delayed to the 14th minute, Lewis Stevenson, who had switched to the right to deliver an inswinging corner getting a second chance to toss the ball into the box, finding the head of McGregor who steered it in off Stobie’s left-hand post.

Lennon, in keeping with his intention of sharing these pre-season matches around to ensure as many players as possible “got minutes into their legs”, started only four of those who had begun the game against Berwick 48 hours earlier: Cummings, Gray, Boyle and McGregor.

Cummings had taken only 12 seconds to get his name on the scoresheet then, but he did so again 18 minutes in, applying the final touch after McGeouch’s crossfield ball was chested down by Gray and played in to Boyle who’s shot looked netbound before his team-mate stole his thunder.

There was a clear gulf in class between the sides, as was probably expected, emphasised by Hibs going three up with only 23 minutes on the clock, Cummings’ curling shot coming off the post for Sam Stanton to prod home the rebound.

Hibs were showing their near neighbours little mercy, McGeouch making it four three minutes later, his low left foot shot from 20 yards flashing past Stobie. Not taking early chances at Shielfield Park was part of the reason Hibs had been forced to settle for that 1-1 draw, but there were no complaints on this occasion.

Lennon’s players refused to let the pace of the game drop despite having, in effect, wrapped the game up but while it may have been cruel on City, each of them would have been well aware of sole purpose of these 90 minutes with only Sunday’s friendly against Motherwell in which to further hone their match fitness to come before Thursday’s Europa League clash with Brondby.

Having conceded four in 26 minutes, City would have been thankful of making it to half-time without suffering any further damage but one look at the Hibs bench, with the inevitable raft of changes to come, they’d have anticipated another testing 45 minutes.

Four came immediately after the interval, Keatings, who had missed out on Tuesday night having suffered a training ground knock, coming on for Cummings while Aaron Dunsmore, Fraser Fyvie and Harris replaced Gray, McGeouch and Boyle.

Those who had come on were clearly intent on emulating those first-half efforts, Fyvie going close immediately, the midfielder’s effort deflected inches wide before Harris cut in from the right to send a shot curling over Amos’ crossbar.

Other than an early shot from Ian McFarland which bounced safely into his arms, Hibs goalkeeper Otso Virtanen had been a virtual spectator, giving Lennon little chance to assess the attributes of the Finnish Under-21 internationalist in the 69 minutes he played while new signing Ross Laidlaw wasn’t involved other than in the warm-up.

While Hibs had dominated without being able to add to that early goals rush, they hadn’t tested Amos to any great extent and City enjoyed a consolation when See netted 15 minutes from time.

There appeared to be a lack of communication between Mark Oxley, who had replaced Virtanen for the remaining 21 minutes, and Ryan Porteous who had come on McGregor, the youngster attempting to head a long ball back to his goalkeeper but coming up short, gifting See, playing his first game since suffering cruciate ligament damage in January, the easiest of finishes.

Keatings had the opportunity to add a fifth for Hibs when the ball broke into his path but, in attempting to pick his spot, he cracked it off the post, Grant Holt following up but unable to direct his header on target.

Many of the part-time City players looked out on their feet going into the final ten minutes, packing their own penalty area to make life difficult for Hibs.

But the were finally carved open again, Holt feeding Keatings who side-stepped his marker before drilling a low shot beyond Amos.

Edinburgh City: Stobie (Amos 46), Mbu, Caddow, Martyniuk (Dunn 46), Harrison (Paterson 64), McConnell (Gibson 46), McKee (Donaldson 58), McFarland, Gair, Allum (See 69), D Cummings (Guthrie 58).

Substitutes not used: Amos, Dingwall, Carse.

Hibs: Virtanen (Oxley 69), Gray (Dunsmore 46), McGregor (Porteous 69), Hanlon (Fontaine 61), Stevenson (Crane 69), McGeouch (Fyvie 46), Bartley (Martin 69), Boyle (Harris 46), Stanton (Handling 61), Carmichael (Holt 61), Cummings (Keatings 46)

Referee: Scott Millar

Attendance: 2522