Hibs all but out of Premier Sports Cup after penalty shoot-out defeat by Morton

Hibs’ hopes of advancing to the knockout stages of the Premier Sports Cup are hanging by a thread after a penalty shoot-out defeat by Morton following a 1-1 draw at Easter Road.

Ewan Henderson equalises for Hibs
Ewan Henderson equalises for Hibs

Grant Gillespie fired the visitors in front from the penalty spot before Ewan Henderson equalised.

In the penalty shoot-out Henderson and Aiden McGeady saw their spot-kicks saved by Brian Schwake and David Marshall saved from Gillespie but Ryan Porteous put his over the bar. Joe Newell scored but Cameron Blues and Carlo Pignatiello scored and Kyle Jacobs converted the deciding penalty for a 3-1 win for Morton and the bonus point.

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Hibs could still mathematically progress to the knockout stages but they would need a lot of results to go their way at the weekend and their chances look less than slim.

Lewis Miller came into the team in place of the injured Lewis Stevenson, who picked up a knock in the 4-1 victory over Bonnyrigg Rose and Portuguese winger Jair Tavares was included in a competitive matchday squad for the first time after his work permit came through earlier this week.

Chances were at a premium in the opening half-hour, Lewis Strapp volleying over from close range from a Jaze Kabia cross for the visitors and Elias Melkersen firing wide from 20 yards out. Christian Doidge then headed wide but Schwake never looked particularly concerned.

Miller had the best chance of the half for the hosts. Aiden McGeady picked out Ewan Henderson with a long ball forward and the playmaker cushioned it back for the Australian full-back whose powerful volley flashed across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

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Rocky Bushiri also came close with a header from a McGeady cross, with the Belgian claiming he had been impeded as he made contact, but referee Euan Anderson was unmoved.

Johnson changed things up at the break, handing Tavares his debut and replacing Miller with Josh Campbell, prompting Cadden to switch to right-back and Campbell occupying the left-back berth.

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Henderson had the first real opportunity of the second period, a 25-yard effort on 51 minutes spilled by Schwake and gathered at the second attempt.

Four minutes later Hibs came close to the opener, Henderson’s fierce effort deflected over the bar by Jack Baird for a corner.

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Shortly before the hour mark Marshall was called into action to tip Kabia’s effort away from goal but as Morton recycled the ball Cameron Blues’ cross struck the arm of Newell and the referee pointed to the spot. Gillespie stepped up, sending Marshall the wrong way.

Momodou Bojang was introduced with 20 minutes remaining and his first act was to set up Henderson for the equaliser, nudging the ball through for the midfielder to slot under Schwake.

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Hibs threw bodies forward in search of a winner but couldn’t find a way through.

Morton’s tactics to slow the game down were infuriating both home supporters and players and Alexander King was booked as he left the field at a glacial pace when being subbed off.

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With time ticking down McGeady let fly again from distance but his effort flew just wide of the right-hand post.

The last act of normal time was a cross from McGeady that evaded everyone, somewhat summing up a bad night for Hibs.

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Hibs: Marshall; Cadden, Bushiri, Porteous, Miller (Campbell 46); McGeady, Kenneh (Tavares 46), Newell, Henderson; Melkersen, Doidge (Bojang 70). Subs not used: Dabrowski, McClelland, O MacIntyre, Delferriere, Tait, Hauge.

Morton: Schwake; Pignatiello, O’Connor, Baird, Strapp; Kabia (McGregor 82), Lyon (Jacobs 73), Gillespie, Blues, King (Garrity 82); Easdale (Muirhead 57). Subs not used: Green, Hynes, McGrattan.