Hibs debrief: Shaun Maloney's tactical changes, Ryan Porteous' performance, pint-sized pitch invaders

A look back at Shaun Maloney’s first game in charge of Hibs.

By Craig Fowler
Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 7:00 am
New Hibs manager Shaun Maloney gives out instructions to Martin Boyle. Picture: SNS
New Hibs manager Shaun Maloney gives out instructions to Martin Boyle. Picture: SNS

Player of the match

The match-winner was also the star player. Ryan Porteous had a couple of moments where he may have made fans nervy, but overall he did a great job at repelling whatever Aberdeen threw in his direction, while his passing ability once again shone through. Routinely he found team-mates with zipped, accurate, 30-plus-yard balls to get his side up the park quickly. Oh, and he also rose, what felt like, ten feet in the air to power home his header and give his side all three points.

Defining moment

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It’s got to be the winning goal. When it’s a 1-0 win, the goal will always be “the difference” between the sides, but it felt especially impactful on this occasion. Without Porteous’ aggressive attacking of Martin Boyle’s corner, it feels somewhat unlikely the game would have found a winning goal as there weren’t many chances at either end throughout the 90 minutes.

Ref watch

Alan Muir drew the ire of Hibs fans on a few occasions with some surprising decisions, but thankfully none of these were of the “big” variety and the game largely passed without much incident.

Tactical observations

Let’s dispense with “benefit of hindsight” on this occasion as it was the new manager’s first match, which ended in victory, so it would be churlish to focus on any negatives. Shaun Maloney didn’t waste any time in imprinting his own style on the team. They lined up in a highly-expansive 3-4-3 formation, not something witnessed throughout most of Jack Ross’ reign, and looked to use the width of the pitch to pass the ball around their opponents. This worked well for the opening 20 minutes or so before Aberdeen go to grips with it and began punishing them for the extra space available in the centre. An experienced, energetic No.8 may be top of the new manager’s wishlist in the January window.

Moment you may have missed

Against Dundee, one young fan ran on to the pitch at full-time and managed to get a strip from Martin Boyle. On Wednesday there were four of them. The first was fortunate and got his award. The rest were respectfully told by the players to leave the pitch or chased away by stewards.

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