What is it about David Marshall and penalty saves? While the former Scotland keeper is always humble enough to dismiss his pivotal role in this country’s football history as merely being fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, there’s clearly more to it than dumb luck.
If his stop from Bojan Miovski in yesterday’s scintillating win over Aberdeen at Easter Road could never be compared to THAT famous spot-kick save in Belgrade, the Hibs fans who trotted out the old Whigfield number in tribute to their No. 1 – a hero again, all past concerns about his playing risky passes from the back suddenly forgotten – understood exactly how much this meant. At 2-0 up, a dangerous scoreline given recent history, and with a good quarter of an hour to play, it was the turning point as Hibs recorded a third successive league win for the first time since February.
On a day when Dylan Vente scored his first goal in ten games and Will Fish found the net with a thumping header, Marshall made a string of jaw-dropping saves and played a key role in the opener. It surely didn’t take the jury of sponsors more than half a heartbeat to settle on the goalie as their Man of the Match.
Victory over Barry Robson’s men saw Nick Montgomery’s team jump to fifth in the table. If that didn’t always seem a certainty on an afternoon when Aberdeen created plenty of chances, the visitors – without a win since squeaking past Hibs in their Viaplay Cup semi-final a month ago – could hardly complain about being robbed.
The vital opener certainly always looked more likely to fall to Hibs. And there could be few more deserving scorers than Vente, who ended his nine-game goal drought with a tap-in after just 17 minutes, the Dutchman benefiting from a raking Marshall ball that sent Boyle scampering in behind a disjoined Dons backline. Boyle could have taken on the chance himself – but did absolutely the right thing by squaring for his team-mate, who had the easiest of tasks to send the ball past a despairing Kelle Roos.
It looked as if Hibs would go on to dominate, almost lining up to take shots, without getting the killer second. Still, it took an absolutely stunning save from Marshall – denying Miovski a tap-in – to maintain their slender lead at the interval.
The Reds rose like a veritable crimson tide in the second half, threatening to sweep Hibs away under a series of chances. Miovski should really have taken one of them, at least.
Even after Fish sent Boyle’s in-swinging corner past Roos with 20 minutes remaining, the visitors kept on coming. When a Miovski flick hit the outstretched arm of Lewis Stevenson, well, it looked as if they’d get one back, at least.
But Marshall went the right way, diving full stretch to his right to turn the Macedonian’s effort aside. Not his last save of an afternoon where Aberdeen could have played with two balls, fired both towards the goal … and probably still have been thwarted by a goalkeeper who simply refused to be beaten.
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