Hibs 6, Aberdeen 0: Slick Hibs earn Jim Goodwin the sack 19 minutes after full-time whistle

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A Josh Campbell-inspired Hibs demolished Aberdeen 6-0 at Easter Road on Saturday, leapfrogging the Dons into fifth in the cinch Premiership and ending Jim Goodwin’s reign as Pittodrie manager.

The game had been dubbed ‘El Sackico’ by some wags, suggesting that the losing manager would pay with their job. They weren’t wrong, and the writing was on the wall by 3.15pm.

Campbell scored twice in five minutes to give the hosts a two-goal lead with a quarter of an hour on the clock, with Élie Youan adding a third on the stroke of half-time. Kevin Nisbet climbed off the bench to net the fourth, Campbell added his third and Hibs’ fifth from the penalty spot after Liam Scales dragged substitute Josh O’Connor to the ground in the box, seeing red for his troubles, and Will Fish netted his first goal for the club with a header in stoppage time.

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Lee Johnson made four changes to the team that started against Hearts last weekend – some enforced, others not. Will Fish stepped into the backline in place of Ryan Porteous while club captain Paul Hanlon came in for the injured Rocky Bushiri. Joe Newell returned to the starting line-up after being suspended for the cup tie, and Harry McKirdy took the place of Nisbet, who started on the bench. The striker returned late on Friday night after his U-turning on a move to Millwall but hadn’t trained prior to that following a dead leg sustained last weekend.

Josh Campbell heads home his second goal of the afternoon against AberdeenJosh Campbell heads home his second goal of the afternoon against Aberdeen
Josh Campbell heads home his second goal of the afternoon against Aberdeen

The question on most Hibs fans’ lips may have been where the goals where going to come from. Nisbet’s absence from the starting line-up, given his seven goals in as many matches since his return from injury, may have caused some consternation among the home support. They need not have worried.

Hibs were good, but they were made to look even better by an abject Dons side that offered very, very little. The travelling support – those brave enough to make the trip after Monday night’s Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Darvel – unfurled a ‘Goodwin Out’ banner ahead of kick-off and spent much of the first half jeering the manager, the players, and the board. The Hibs fans joined in the ‘sacked in the morning’ chants. ‘Sacked in the afternoon’ might have been more accurate.

Nineteen minutes after the final whistle, the Dons issued a short statement: “Following an unacceptable run of results since the World Cup break, the club confirms it has parted company with Jim Goodwin and first team assistant manager Lee Sharp with immediate effect.”

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With ten minutes on the clock Youan, whose pace was already causing problems for the visiting defence, brought a save out of Joe Lewis. Following up at the back post was Campbell, who tucked away the rebound for the opener. Five minutes later it was two. From a corner, Joe Newell picked out Campbell, arriving late at the back post totally unmarked, and the midfielder bulleted a header beyond Lewis for 2-0. The home fans were as stunned as the away support.

Matty Kennedy had Aberdeen’s first real sight of goal after 26 minutes but his effort from range lacked accuracy. The all-action Campbell then intervened with a fine last-ditch tackle on Graeme Shinnie as the midfielder prepared to pull the trigger.

With half-time fast approaching, Hibs won a corner on the right after McKirdy had dispossessed Jonny Hayes. Newell notched another assist as his kick found Youan, who headed in for his second goal of the season and his first at Easter Road. He celebrated by making a sleep gesture, which might as well have been a comment on the Dons defence.

Jeering accompanied the Aberdeen players’ departure from the pitch at the break, and it welcomed them back on for the second half as well. Hibs took a while to get going again but with the Dons barely threatening, it mattered little.

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On 68 minutes, Lee Johnson made his first change, bringing on Nisbet for McGeady. On 72 minutes, Nisbet made it 4-0. Campbell was the architect, playing a sumptuous pass into the path of Nisbet and taking out the remaining Dons defenders. Nisbet made a bee-line for the goal and placed the ball beyond Lewis.

With a little over ten minutes to go Johnson introduced Oscar MacIntyre and Josh O’Connor to raucous cheers from the three stands housing home fans. O’Connor played a starring role in Hibs’ fifth, inciting Liam Scales to bring him down in the area. The Dons defender earned a second yellow card and subsequent red, and gave away a penalty. On any normal matchday at Easter Road Nisbet would surely have grabbed the ball, but this was no normal matchday.

Campbell took the ball, placed it on the spot, waited for the whistle, ran up, and buried the spot-kick in the bottom left corner for his third and Hibs’ fifth. Some of the Aberdeen fans who hadn’t already left began to head for the exits.

Consecutive 5-0 defeats in the Capital on either side of a meek Scottish Cup exit at the hands of a sixth-tier side would surely spell the end for Goodwin, who had already been warned by the Pittodrie board to produce a result against Hibs or face the consequences. When Will Fish powered home a sixth goal in injury time from Campbell’s free kick, the writing was well and truly on the wall.

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"We want seven,” came the chants from the home fans, but in the end they had to make do with six; not that many will care. Was this the start of something good at Easter Road, or merely papering over the cracks albeit in some style?

We should find out when Hibs travel to Ross County on Tuesday night and depending on other results, they could end the month in fourth, fewer than 30 days after Johnson’s remarkable post-derby outburst at new year.

It’s a funny old game.

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