Hibs happy to get job done in Andorran heat but things don't go as smoothly for supporters thanks to technical glitch
The level of farce in the first leg of Hibs’ Conference League qualifying tie against Santa Coloma was high, but it was cranked up another couple of notches in the second leg as the fans were left in the dark when the Andorran football federation’s official match stream crashed.
With few spectators allowed into the ground, thousands more were denied access to the televised feed before the problems were resolved in time for the second half.
In hot conditions and on the artificial surface, Hibs dominated the opening period but both sides waited until their fans were logged in to provide any goals.
The 3-0 cushion from the game in Leith meant that Hibs’ objective was to finish the job while getting some minutes into players still shy of match fitness.
Seeking to control the tempo and play a composed, passing game that left the opposition to do most of the running, Jack Ross’ men started brightly.
Keen to kill the contest off and give the management plenty of scope to swap in some of the subs, with just three minutes gone, Kevin Nisbet hit the bar from long range, and just over ten minutes later Paul McGinn got himself into an advanced position and forced the home keeper into a good save.
Nisbet was close to opening up the scoring when Josh Campbell made the most of a pass over the top and fed a low ball across the face of goal but neither the Scotland attacker or his strike partner for the evening, Martin Boyle, could get on the end of it.
Easter Road boss Jack Ross had chosen to put his faith in many of the youngsters in his squad, utilising the services of five players aged 22-years-old or younger throughout the 90 minutes.
With Joe Newell and Scott Allan back in Scotland, tethered by suspension and injury respectively, Jake Doyle-Hayes made his competitive Hibs debut and Kyle Magennis joined him in midfield.
Lewis Stevenson and Dan Mackay dropped from last week’s line-up, freeing up space for Josh Doig, who is chasing a return to full match fitness following his covid issues, and Josh Campbell, who was brought in to playing on the right hand side, behind the front two of Nisbet and Boyle.
Campbell was heavily involved in that first half and, along with Doyle-Hayes, made a positive impact as they helped to dictate play as the team worked to supply the ammunition to Boyle and Nisbet up front
It was Campbell who won a freekick in the 28th minute, which was put over the bar by Ryan Porteous, and a few minutes later he crossed for Doyle-Hayes, but the Irishman’s header went wide.
Magennis and Paul Hanlon both came close before Guillaume Lopez of Santa Coloma opened the scoring.
Matt Macey had pulled off a couple of good saves moments earlier but he couldn’t halt the 70th minute shot from the Frenchman. However, substitutes Jamie Murphy and Mackay stepped up with the perfect response.
The elder statesman produced a composed finish three minutes later to level before Mackay, scored his first competitive goal for the club, reacting well to a shot off the post to seal Hibs place in the next round, where they will face Riejka of Croatia.