Hibs see off Norwich in final friendly as youngsters impress with ten first-team players sidelined

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An Elias Melkersen goal was enough to hand Hibs victory over Norwich City in the Easter Road side’s final pre-season friendly.

The 19-year-old got on the end of Christian Doidge’s knockdown to fire past Angus Gunn from close range shortly before the break.

Doidge had a couple of chances in the second half to increase the lead and Robbie Hamilton came close to a first goal in green and white midway through the second period but Hibs never really looked in danger of conceding to their English Championship visitors.

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For a friendly, there was a more oomph in some of Jordan Hugill’s challenges in the first half and there was no sense of the game being a summer stroll for either side.

Aiden McGeady being forced off midway through the first half with an injury to the same knee with which he had problems latterly at Sunderland will be a source of consternation for the player and Lee Johnson, who had ten first-team players missing through a combination of sickness, injury, and a lack of work permit.

There will be fervent hopes at Hibs that at least some of them will recover in time for next weekend’s Premiership opener at St Johnstone. A paucity of players meant three of last year’s under-18 squad playing the second 45 and although they acquitted themselves well, one imagines Johnson would want a few more bodies available for the trip to Perth.

Apart from that it was a good workout for Hibs. The first-half goal was well worked, Nohan Kenneh rolling the ball to Joe Newell who took a touch and crossed it towards the back post where Rocky Bushiri and Doidge were waiting. The latter got up well and nodded the ball down towards Melkersen, who was arriving inside the six-yard box and the Norwegian forward hit the ball on the drop, prodding it past Angus Gunn from close range.

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He missed a presentable chance earlier but had been a constant threat in the final third to a fairly inexperienced Canaries backline and did well to be in the right place at the right time.

Elias Melkersen scores in the first half following Christian Doidge's knockdownElias Melkersen scores in the first half following Christian Doidge's knockdown
Elias Melkersen scores in the first half following Christian Doidge's knockdown

Beyond that it was standard pre-season fare. Johnson made eight changes at the break, bringing on three of last season’s title-winning under-18s in Jacob Blaney, Robbie Hamilton, and Oscar MacIntyre and the trio didn’t look out of place in a much-changed side.

Midfielder Hamilton had a gilt-edged chance to increase Hibs’ lead when Blaney’s pinpoint cross sat up perfectly for him but his effort was straight at Gunn while at left-wingback MacIntyre was enjoying the tussle with Cuban international Onel Hernandez.

Doidge had a couple of chances himself, firing narrowly wide from substitute Runar Hauge’s cross and then heading a long ball forward narrowly wide.

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Another half-time replacement in Dylan Tait impressed in the middle of the park, pulling the strings and not looking out of place. His future remains somewhat unclear with talk of loans and development-squad appearances but on this showing, he would arguably be a worthy addition to the first-team squad – especially with the number of injuries in midfield at the moment.

It is still hard to know much about this Hibs team given how many players are currently unavailable but at the very least, they have finished pre-season on a high.

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