Hibs debrief: Maloney's tactical risks; misfiring Kevin Nisbet; Rocky Bishiri’s debut; Chris Cadden's crosses

A look back at Shaun Maloney’s first defeat as Hibs manager after Celtic ran out comfortable 2-0 winners at Parkhead in the first cinch Premiership match after the winter break.

Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 11:29 am

Player of the match

Chris Cadden. Although he struggled defensively at times, he wasn’t the only one and certainly wasn’t the worst by any means. Playing at right-back in a conventional back four, he didn’t allow himself to get as exposed as Josh Doig on the other side. He also exploited every rare opportunity that came up to bomb forward and was probably Hibs’ most potent attacking outlet. At least one of the low crosses he zipped across goal should have been turned into the net. On a night when few got pass marks, it was a decent night’s work from a player who will enjoy working with Maloney.

Defining moment

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Celtic’s Daizen Maeda and Hibs right-back Chris Cadden in action at Celtic Park

Kevin Nisbet’s sitter. It was Cadden who put it on a plate for the striker after just three minutes with his overlapping run and low cross to the back post. With the goal wide open four yards out, it looked like it was harder to miss but Nisbet didn’t sort his feet out and his miscued attempt hit the post. A minute later, Celtic were 1-0 up and that set the tone for the rest of the night. When chances like that come along at Celtic Park, you need to take them. Nisbet’s decision to stab at it with the outside of his right foot rather than side-foot home with his left is evidence of a striker still low on confidence.

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Ref watch

Willie Collum’s decision to award Celtic a first-half penalty was a key moment in the match. On another day, at another venue, Hibs would have got away with it. While Celtic winger Liel Abada’s first touch clearly flicked the ball up and onto Josh Doig’s outstretched arm it was difficult to see how the Hibs full-back could have seen or avoided it. He was running back after the ball had been clipped over his head and you can’t run with arms at your sides. If that decision was a tad harsh on Hibs, Collum had a reasonably straightforward night.

The moment Celtic are awarded a penalty as Josh Doig handles in the box

Tactical observations

Maloney altered the shape to a 4-3-1-2 but demanded that his team stick with his principles of playing their way out from the back. That’s easier said than done against Celtic’s high press and intensity and the opening goal, a consequence of Josh Campbell losing possession in his own half, underlined the risk when facing a team of such quality. Campbell looked uncomfortable on the left of midfield and Josh Doig behind him was left exposed defensively. Out of possession, Hibs really struggled in the first half and that is perhaps something Gary Caldwell will be asked to address. When Hibs did go forward, there was a lack of width and purpose but that can be attributed to the players who were missing. Maloney said he will need to coach the team to be better in the final third. He might need to start with Kevin Nisbet, who has lost his way.

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Rocky Bishiri’s late challenge on Giorgos Giakoumakis. It was always going to be a difficult night for the Belgian defender, who hasn’t played 90 minutes for a considerable time. But although there were signs of rust, on first impression he did enough to suggest that he will be well suited to the Scottish Premiership. The robust late tackle on Giakoumakis which, quite rightly, earned him a yellow card was one of them. It was a glimpse of his aggression and determination, adding to his composure on the ball. Get a few matches under his belt to get up to speed, and he will surely only get better.

Belgian defender Rocky Bushiri made an encouraging debut for Hibs at Celtic Park

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