What does Hibs' biggest league win of season tell us about potential star power?

Emi Marcondes, Elie Youan and Myziane Maolida celebrating after the Comoros international scored to put Hibs 2-0 up on Livi.Emi Marcondes, Elie Youan and Myziane Maolida celebrating after the Comoros international scored to put Hibs 2-0 up on Livi.
Emi Marcondes, Elie Youan and Myziane Maolida celebrating after the Comoros international scored to put Hibs 2-0 up on Livi. | SNS Group
Red zone improvisation sets bar for attacking intent

Part choreographed performance, part improvisation that plays to the creative strengths of the leading players, football in the final third is almost a stand-alone sport, separate from the discipline and occasional drudgery required to provide a platform for the fun stuff. When a team gets it right, a rarity in a sport where mistakes are an integral part of the entertainment, magic happens.

As we approach the business end of a season that has offered so few highlights to Hibs supporters, the sudden – and shocking – co-ordination displayed by their team at Easter Road yesterday could all too easily be dismissed as a fluke. Look at the influences and driving factors behind their 3-0 thrashing of lowly Livingston, however, and there are encouraging signs.

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They may still be caught in an almighty scrap for a top-six finish in the Scottish Premiership, a ‘prize’ that most fans – and a majority of those in positions of power at Hibs, to be fair – would consider the bare minimum return from any campaign. And they’ve received enough reminders of their own flaws, in recent weeks alone, to mitigate any sense of achievement generated by one big win.

But the partnerships developing, and the understandings being forged in the white heat of competition represent beacons of hope. So let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons to be cheerful:

Alfie knows what it’s all about

Adam Le Fondre – Alf or Alfie to his friends and team-mates – is more than just a sharp-witted veteran striker able to torment defenders with the timing and tangents of his running into space. There’s something more important even than quality and experience at play when he’s absolutely on it.

The 37-year-old Englishman’s appetite for the game, something that can’t be taught or trained, is evident in the way he approaches his job. If he needs to get his body in the way and take a knock, he’ll do it. Having learned the importance of getting the first touch on contested balls, even if it’s just to stop the other guy from gaining control, he’s not going to hold back.

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So, sure, the fast feet and quick brain make Le Fondre a joy to watch. But the hard graft that goes with the guile, that’s what makes him so valuable to Hibs.

The bar has been set

Having gone 2-0 up inside the opening seven minutes yesterday, Hibs were never going to maintain the same blistering pace for the entire game. But the clinical touch they showed in putting Livingston into a very deep hole is what Nick Montgomery will now expect from his main men.

For a brief spell, before they got their third with a superb counter-attack, Hibs seemed too keen to force the issue. They’d just bagged a couple of brilliant goals with sharp passing and one-touch play, yet now seemed intent on looking for the World Cup pass, making high-risk attempts that were either over-hit or easily cut out.

If and when the players and coaching staff get a chance to analyse the many things that went right yesterday, there will clearly be a focus on the quick give-and-go passes that worked so well. And a reminder that, if you do that often enough, chances will follow.

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More is still to come

Martin Boyle is missing with a concussion. Dylan Vente was sitting in the main stand, nursing an ankle injury that has caused him to miss the last three games. Josh Campbell is still on his way back from a broken ankle.

If the mid-season injury crisis is now just a memory, Hibs are at least one-and-a-half players short of absolute full strength. What might happen if Monty ever gets all his options available at the same time?

Maolida's roaming threat has become vital to Hibs.Maolida's roaming threat has become vital to Hibs.
Maolida's roaming threat has become vital to Hibs. | SNS Group

Freedom of movement is a joy to watch

Myziane Maolida is never going to just hang out on the left wing, making sure he gets plenty of chalk on his boots and hoping to put in crosses. Which helps explain his impressive goal return of five in his last eight games for Hibs. The guy clearly has freedom to roam into the danger zone, leaving space for Jordan Obita to overlap – and getting in among the chances himself.

The sight of Elie Youan actually popping up on the left wing to combine with Maolida, meanwhile, speaks to a more general sense of liberation afforded the Hibs front four in a flexible 4-2-3-1 formation that looks a good fit for the available talent. The biggest league win of the season, extending the recent unbeaten run to six straight, suggests some merit in the system.

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