Hibs held by Dundee United as top-four hopes take a hit

A debut goal for Harry Clarke earned Hibs a share of the spoils against Dundee United as the Easter Road side suffered a set-back in their pursuit of fourth in the Scottish Premiership table.

Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 5:23 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 5:30 pm
Harry Clarke celebrates scoring for Hibs on his debut
Harry Clarke celebrates scoring for Hibs on his debut

While one keeps them in the race, it will go down to the wire next weekend – and even victory at Tynecastle may not be enough as seven teams fight it out for a top-six berth.

It was an attacking line-up chosen by Shaun Maloney – necessary given the magnitude of the game. A front three of Sylvester Jasper, Elias Melkersen, and Chris Mueller was lively without really causing Benji Siegrist any bother in the opening exchanges.

When the visitors took the lead there was an air of familiarity about the manner of the goal lost. Hibs failed to properly clear a set-piece and Tony Watt’s cross for Ryan Edwards fell to Ross Graham whose header beat Kevin Dabrowski.

Hibs have been better defensively since Maloney came in but there would have been frustration in the home dugout at the simplicity of United’s opener.

Within five minutes Jasper had breached the visiting defence and cut the ball back but it evaded the onrushing Melkersen and there were no takers arriving late. After a fairly promising start some of the play from the hosts was ponderous. Passing moves lacked urgency and there wasn’t a great deal to concern Siegrist.

Hibs’ first real chance of note came from Clarke who had drifted into a central position and his shot from 20 yards took a deflection as it whistled over the bar. Maloney has talked extensively about what the Arsenal loanee would bring to his side but few would have been expecting a debut goal that most strikers would have been proud of.

With the game ticking towards half-time, Chris Cadden’s cross fell to his fellow wingback and he took a touch before drilling into the far corner to level the game.

Unsurprisingly the goal gave Hibs a lift going into the second half and, ideally needing to win, they spent more time in the opposition box in the second period.

But as has so often been the case with the Easter Road side this season, good fortune deserted theme in the 18-yard box.

Cadden, Melkersen, Mueller, Clarke, and Joe Newell all had half-chances to no avail.

With time running out Mueller was cautioned for simulation as he tumbled in the box during another attack. At the other end Dabrowski had to be alert to thwart a couple of United attacks.

Right at the death, with six minutes of injury time approaching an end, Mueller fed the ball to the back post where Melkersen was arriving but he contrived to send his effort over the bar.

Once again Hibs did the hard work in the final third without taking their chances. Clarke’s all-action display was the biggest positive on a day where Hibs will feel they should have done better.

With other results not doing Hibs too many favours, they will need at least the same again next week at Tynecastle but ideally, a little bit more.

This penultimate pre-split fixture felt like Hibs’ season in microcosm – some very good football but ultimately, not enough when it mattered most.

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