Hibs held by Stoke City as Easter Road side records draw in pre-season friendly
Hibs were held to a 1-1 draw by English Championship side Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium as the Capital club wrapped up their pre-season training camp in the north of England.
Scott Allan was on target for Hibs early in the first half with Alfie Doughty replying for the hosts, coached by former Easter Road favourite Michael O’Neill.
The one-time Northern Ireland boss said earlier this week that he expected Friday’s friendly encounter to be a “good test” for his players, pointing out that the Scottish Premiership side were around ten days ahead of Stoke in their pre-season preparations, having returned to training early ahead of their Europa Conference League bow on July 22.
Josh Doig was handed his first start of pre-season after joining up with the squad earlier this week while fellow late arrival Melker Hallberg was named among the substitutes.
Jack Ross set out his players in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Alex Gogic and Joe Newell sitting in front of a back four of Chris Cadden, Darren McGregor, Ryan Porteous, and Doig, with Matt Macey between the sticks while Allan, Martin Boyle, and Jamie Murphy were the attacking midfield trio supporting lone striker Kevin Nisbet.
Hibs started strongly and Allan finished past Potters ‘keeper Josef Bursik into the bottom corner after good work from Murphy on the left flank.
Former Easter Road striker Steven Fletcher then had a goal chalked off for offside before shooting just wide of Macey’s goal from the edge of the penalty area.
Stoke were forced into an early change after youngster Will Forrester was stretchered off after sustaining an injury with former Wolves defender Danny Batth taking his place.
The Scottish side looked to be heading into the half-time interval in front until Doughty’s effort beat Macey shortly before the whistle.
Stoke should have gone in front shortly after the restart with new signing Mario Vrančić combining well with Danish midfielder Lasse Sørensen but teenage striker Will Goodwin was unable to find the net from close range.
Hibs changed things up midway through the second period, moving to a 3-5-2 formation and bringing on a number of substitutes for the final half-hour, mainly those who had played the first hour of the 1-0 defeat by Accrington Stanley at Mottram Hall.
Summer signing Daniel Mackay was one of the replacements and he linked up well with Nisbet in a front two.
Kyle Magennis tested Bursik shortly after entering the fray while Stoke sub Kieran Coates sent an effort wide shortly after.
Macey had to be alert to deny Goodwin late on in the game and with neither side able to find a winner, the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Hibs will now return to Scotland ahead of Tuesday night’s friendly against Arsenal, and Friday’s trip to Fife to face Raith Rovers in Iain Davidson’s testimonial match at Stark’s Park.
Hibs: Macey, Cadden, McGregor, Porteous, Doig, Newell, Gogić, Boyle, Allan, Murphy, Nisbet. Subs: Dąbrowski, Magennis, Wright, Mallan, Stevenson, Mackay, Gullan, Hallberg, Campbell, Bradley.