Hibs debrief: Rocky's best yet; Clinical Kukharevych; Marshall's moments against St Mirren
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PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Rocky Bushiri’s athleticism and physicality have never been in doubt, but their have been question marks about his decision-making and distribution since he arrived at Hibs in January. Being positioned as the middle man in a back three, however, seems to have brought out the best in the defender. Like an old-fashioned sweeper, he covered in behind Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon, reading the game extremely well and making a number of important interceptions, blocks and clearances. It must rank as one of his best performances for Hibs. Having shown what he can do, Bushiri’s challenge is to find some consistency and maintain that level of performance.
Mykola Kukharevych’s brilliant goal early in the second half summed up everything that was good about this Hibs performance. The chance was created by a slick, intricate and penetrative move – one of many on a day when more goals could have been scored. It sliced a hole in the Saints backline, but still left the big Ukrainian striker with a lot to do. Determination and strength set up the shooting chance and he then had the composure to execute the finish superbly. That’s two goals in two games for Kukharevych after attempts in previous games, and agin in the first half of this match, were disallowed. The big man knows where the goal is and could now be on a roll.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
Although 3-0 certainly didn’t flatter Hibs, it could have panned out very differently had it not been for two excellent one-handed stops from close range by David Marshall in the opening 22 minutes. After all, only Celtic and Rangers have won more Premiership games in 2022 than St Mirren, a side in excellent form. The goalkeeper kept out Jonah Ayunga and Curtis Main to prevent his team from falling behind against the run of play. It underlined his value to the team and showed, once again just how big a signing he has been.
It was a good day for VAR. Marijan Cabraja was marginally offside for the Kukharevych first-half effort which was disallowed, but the new technology ruled in Hibs’ favour in first-half injury time when referee Don Robertson penalised Richard Tait for handball after an on-field review. Again, it was the correct call. As was his decision to wave away an early Martin Boyle penalty claim.
It’s fourth against third at Pittodrie as Hibs travel to Aberdeen for a Friday night football (7:30pm) clash which promises to be a cracker. After such an impressive performance against Saints, the previous win over Aberdeen at Easter Road and the Dons’ abject display at Ibrox, Lee Johnson’s men should travel north with chests puffed out and full of optimism. Home to Ross County a week on Tuesday (November 8) and away to Kilmarnock after that are also fixtures Hibs should be expecting to accumulate points.