Hibs development squad suffer SPFL Reserve Cup defeat in Molde warm-up clash

Two goals in each half consigned a youthful Hibs development team to a 4-0 defeat by Dundee at HTC in the first match of the SPFL Reserve Cup group stages.

Niall McGinn opened the scoring midway through the first half with Finlay Robertson adding a second shortly before the break.

McGinn notched his second shortly after the restart and Euan Mutale put the gloss on the scoreline with a headed finish towards the end.

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Hibs academy chief Steve Kean had indicated a plan to start an XI comprising players likely to play in the second leg of the UEFA Youth League Domestic Champions Path first-round tie against Molde at Easter Road, with the Norwegians holding a slender one-goal aggregate lead.

This meant no senior players involved for the hosts, with Darren McGregor sticking to his coaching role and the bulk of the squad made up of under-18 and under-19 players.

With goalkeeper Murray Johnson and centre-back Jacob Blaney on international duty for Scotland under-19s and Ethan Laidlaw still sidelined, Tom Carter started between the sticks with Jack Brydon partnering Kanayo Megwa in the heart of defence with Josh McCulloch and Oscar MacIntyre in the full-back roles.

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Murray Aiken, Robbie Hamilton, and Jacob MacIntyre made up the midfield with Josh O’Connor spearheading a front three flanked by Rudi Molotnikov and Owen Hastie.

The Dark Blues, by contrast, fielded a number of first-team squad members, including back-up ‘keeper Ian Lawlor; veteran winger McGinn, seasoned midfielder Shaun Byrne, who has played more than 300 games in the SPFL, and Luke McCowan, Luke Strachan, and Robertson, who all have extensive senior experience.

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Hibs were on the end of a 4-0 defeat against a more experienced Dundee team

For Hibs, the player with the most exposure to senior football was 18-year-old Brydon, who has played 27 games in League One and League Two.

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Despite that, the Hibees started strongly in front of the watching first-team coaching staff without really threatening Lawlor, and the Dundee defence did well to keep the attacking trio at bay.

Aiken, Molotnikov, and O’Connor all had half-chances but Carter wasn’t particularly busy either at the other end with McGinn and Robertson both sending efforts over the bar and Brydon nodding just wide from a free kick.

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The breakthrough came midway through the first half, McGinn sending a 25-yard free kick past Carter to open the scoring. Robertson added the second shortly before the break after a well-worked attack by the visitors, curling beyond the ‘keeper from the left side of the box from McGinn’s pass.

McGinn grabbed his second and Dundee’s third not long after the restart, slipping through the defence to collect Strachan’s cross and firing low past Carter.

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Mutale made it four when he squeezed a header in at the back post from a cross. O’Connor had a couple of sights of goal but shot wide with the first before being dispossessed as he shaped to shoot after capitalising on a wayward pass-back.

Kean introduced Emmanuel Johnson, Reuben McAllister, and Malik Zaid in the second half in a bid to freshen things up with Hamilton, Jacob MacIntyre, and Hastie making way.

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Megwa came close to netting a consolation goal at the end but his powerful half-volley from a corner produced a fine point-blank save to deny the defender and ensure a clean sheet for the visitors.

Hibs: Carter; McCulloch, Brydon, Megwa, O MacIntyre; Aiken, Hamilton, J MacIntyre; Molotnikov, O’Connor, Hastie. Subs used: E Johnson, McAllister, Zaid.

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Dundee: Lawlor, Martin, Strachan, Graham, Donald, Robertson, Lamb, Byrne, Mutale, McCowan, McGinn. Subs used: Trialist, Blacklock, Richardson, Findlay, Clark.