Hibs see off experienced Livingston side in Reserve Cup with Laidlaw, Hamilton, and O'Connor on target
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Goals from Ethan Laidlaw, Robbie Hamilton, and Josh O’Connor had the hosts well in front although a late consolation by Jackson Longridge denied Hibs a clean sheet as they continue their preparations for next month’s UEFA Youth League play-off against Borussia Dortmund.
The visitors included in their starting line-up eight players with competitive senior appearances under their belt so far this season, with a total of more than 100 first-team games. Hibs, by comparison, included five players with one senior sub appearance each.
With exactly two weeks until the Germans visit the Capital, Steve Kean and Gareth Evans put out what could well be the starting line-up for that game with Murray Johnson behind a back three of Kanayo Megwa, Jacob Blaney, and Owen Hastie, with the MacIntyre brothers occupying the wingback roles. Hamilton and Murray Aiken anchored the midfield with Malek Zaid buzzing about just behind a front two of Laidlaw and O’Connor.
In bright sunshine Hibs started strongly and went in front after 20 minutes. Livi goalkeeper Jack Hamilton dithered on the ball on the edge of his area and was robbed by O’Connor, who slipped it to Laidlaw to sweep into the empty net from 20 yards out.
Hibs nearly increased their lead moments after the opener, but Zaid dragged his shot wide following a cute short corner routine. Livingston were struggling to string passes together and Obileye’s frustration could be clearly heard from the sidelines as he implored his side to sharpen up.
Despite Livi’s slackness Hibs were unable to take advantage and the first half ended with just Laidlaw’s goal separating the teams, the visitors unable to really test Johnson.
The West Lothian side made a couple of changes at the break and immediately looked more cohesive in the centre of the park but Hibs were resolute in defence. Despite that, Livi began to come into the game more and Hibs’ slender lead looked in danger at times as the more experienced opposition sought a way back into the match.
A few personnel reshuffles were made with Josh McCulloch replacing Jacob MacIntyre and Rudi Molotnikov taking the place of Zaid, while Harry Wright later replaced Hastie. The fresh legs brought a renewed vigour to Hibs and they continued to attack in search of another goal.
Hibs did eventually double their advantage with a well-worked goal. Blaney’s clever ball over the top picked out O’Connor, his darting run on the right flank took him into the box and he cut it back it for the arriving Hamilton to slot home the second.
McCulloch was the architect for the third, sending the impressive O’Connor clear on goal. The striker rounded the ‘keeper and managed to direct his shot on target from an acute angle, with defender Luiyi De Lucas only able to help the ball into the net on the goal-line.
With time running out, Longridge poked home after Hibs failed to fully clear following a late attack.
Hibs: M Johnson, Megwa, Blaney, Hastie (Wright), J MacIntyre (McCulloch), Aiken, Hamilton, Zaid (Molotnikov), O MacIntyre, Laidlaw, O’Connor. Subs not used: Carter, Smith, Khan.