Hibs take giant leap into top six - ratings from County win

Star men among the goals as Monty's men triumph

Points on the board, a first clean in the league since December, a leap into the top six … and the late satisfaction of seeing Chris Cadden back in action at Easter Road for the first time since the end of last season. On an afternoon that few will remember with any great fondness for the quality of entertainment served up, Hibs fans at least left the ground feeling a bit better about their team.

A Myziane Maolida goal just before the hour mark, the former 10 million Euro man capitalising on a priceless blunder by goalkeeper George Wickens, and a controlled finish by substitute Dylan Levitt five minutes from time ultimately gave Nick Montgomery’s men a comfortable win over Ross County. They’ve now taken control of their own destiny in the dash to the Scottish Premiership split, having captured seven points from the last nine available. It just took them a while to get going in the final leg of a three-game week.

Sticking with the same starting XI for the third consecutive fixture, Hibs would have expected to hit the ground running back on home turf. But tired legs and flagging footballing brains seemed to contribute to a sluggish start by the home side, who had plenty of possession and a decent amount of territory. To the frustration of the crowd, they didn’t do much with either.

True, Emi Marcondes might have done better with a rebound following a really impressive passage of play involving Lewis Miller and Nathan Moriah-Welsh, Maolida’s shot carrying too much pace to be held by County goalie Wickens. Marcondes pounced on the ball and showed quick feet to change the angle – but couldn’t beat the keeper from point-blank range.

If the visitors looked more limited when it came to attacking options, Victor Loturi did force David Marshall into a strong save with a thunderous strike from 20 yards, the midfielder intercepting a misplaced pass – not the first by the men in green – that opened up the entire middle of the park for a driving run.

Hibs produced a couple of more-than-decent chances early in the second half, Marcondes forcing a fine save from Wickens before Dylan Vente made the slightly baffling decision to dummy a cut-back from Martin Boyle – leaving the ball to no-one – from a shooting position no more than six yards from goal. Did the Dutch striker hear a shout? Beyond a good few thousand Hibs fans exhorting him to try his luck on goal?

Fortune certainly played a part in the opener, with Vente’s low cross from the right hardly the most dangerous delivery in the history of football. When Wickens spilled it in front of his goal, however, Maolida reacted well to poke the ball home.

David Marshall had to make one great point-blank save inside the closing 20 minutes but, in truth, Hibs had chances to put another couple of goals beyond Wickens long before sub Levitt, who had added some quality on the ball when replacing Moriah-Welsh at half-time, passed the ball into the bottom corner with five minutes of the game remaining.

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