Hibs debrief: Boyle's best 45, pitch factor, penalty calls
It was nervier than it needed to be, but Hibs ensured European football next season and took a big step towards securing third place with Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Livingston.
All in all, a superb first half and job done in the second, with the result made all the sweeter by renowned Hibee Leigh Griffiths grabbing an injury-time equaliser for Celtic against Aberdeen leaving Jack Ross’ men six points clear of the Dons, with a superior goal difference, with three games left to play.
Player of the match
Ryan Porteous was rock solid at the back, and Alex Gogic played a crucial protective role in midfield, but Martin Boyle was the catalyst for victory. The winger’s first half performance was arguably the best individual 45 minutes by a Hibs player this season – and the rest of the team weren’t far behind. He tormented the Livi defence with his pace and poise, and got his reward with a goal and an assist.
Boyle’s run for the penalty would have had the home fans on their feet, had there been any inside the stadium. Past one defender, past two, and past three until Efe Ambrose stuck out a leg and sent the winger flying. To then dispatch the penalty so confidently summed up a player in the best form of his Hibs career.
Colin Napier awarded two penalties, but according to Livi boss David Martindale he should have given two more in favour of the visitors. He had a point with at least one of them – Paul McGinn’s lunge on Scott Pittman could easily have been given. The handball claim against Christian Doidge though was clutching at straws. Jackson Irvine’s yellow card was a strange one when the Aussie appeared to play the ball in a challenge with Craig Sibbald.
In case you missed it…
Hibs pitch was much improved after seven weeks of rest. Managers are often accused of making excuses when it comes to the quality of the surface, but it seemed to make a difference to the quality and tempo of the passing, particularly in the first half. It would have been hard to imagine them putting together such a crisp incisive move that led to the opener on the same pitch two months ago.