For all their rejuvenated appearance, and their 4-2 victory over Dundee on Saturday at Easter Road, Hibs were not as superior to the Dens Park team as the score would indicate.
But for three unfortunate lapses by Dundee’s young goalkeeper, Bill Brown, the score at half-time might well have been 0-0.
It was a pity for the visiting keeper, but few would deny that all three first-half goals were saveable. In 22 minutes Brown came out to a ball and challenged Lawrie Reilly. Both fell, and the ball ran loose towards the goal. The keeper seemed to hold Reilly back and managed to dive after the ball and grab it. The referee blew for a goal, and his decision was confirmed by the linesman. Brown had stretched out his hands and pulled the ball back, and a photograph showed it had almost certainly crossed the line. In any case had there been no goal awarded, there would surely have been a penalty.
Brown erred again at the half-hour when he took his eye off a high cross from Gordon Smith and let the ball slip over his head into the net, and a minute or so later, when Reilly broke through on his own and sent in a none too hard shot, he tried to save it with one hand and failed. His cup of bitterness must surely have been full to over-flowing, for Dundee otherwise were giving as good as they got, and providing some entertaining football.
Dundee soon asserted themselves, Syd Gerrie heading in a free kick in masterly style, giving Tommy Younger no chance to save. There were visions of a fight back, but Hibs held out, and then in 29 minutes Willie Ormond took a quick throw-in and from it Bobby Johnstone shot low, under the diving Brown, that being the nearest approach to an unsaveable shot which Hibs delivered during the whole game.
There were many near misses at both ends, but, the best shot of the match was a free kick taken by Alf Boyd, which hit the foot of the post and careered nearly to the corner flag on its rebound. It is doubtful if Younger, who dived smartly, would have been able to hold it had it been just inside the upright. Gerrie headed home in the last minute of the game for 4-2. Jock Paterson had misjudged a ball, one of his few errors, and when Younger advanced to meet Gerrie, the latter neatly nodded the ball over the keeper’s head: a nice piece of cool judgement.
Hugh Howie, who made his first appearance for the first team after his long absence through illness, was given the honour of coming out first, carrying the ball, a gesture which the 25,000 crowd appreciated. He played soundly though some of his forward passes were hit rather strongly to be useful, but he mixed it with the best.
Individually and as a team Hibs were far ahead of their disastrous selves of the Third Lanark match, and Ormond was really the only one who was subdued, Follon having the speed of him and giving him little time or space in which to manoeuvre. Smith indulged in one or two mazy runs, and was a hard working captain.
Over all, however, it might be better for Hibs, psychologically, now that the two points are safely gathered in, to consider that Dundee really had a moral victory of 2-1, for as the crowd saw it, Dundee gave them three goals of a start.
Hibs: Younger, Govan, Cairns, Howie, Paterson, Ogilvie, Smith, Johnstone, Reilly, Combe, Ormond.