Hibs talking points from Rangers defeat as Johnson gives take on Marshall error amid passive performance
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David Marshall certainly won’t want to see any replays of Tavernier’s strike. The decision to penalise CJ Egan-Riley for obstructing Cantwell looked soft, and the Ibrox captain’s ability from set-pieces is well known, but despite getting two hands to the ball, the experienced ‘keeper could only punch it into the net, and questions might be asked of his role in the third goal as well, although he was unlucky with a couple of ricochets. Speaking afterwards manager Lee Johnson said: “I think Marsh would be disappointed with the first goal, yeah. It's a great finish right in the top corner but I think the mistake he makes is the first step. He's stepped to read the cross, and once you've stepped away from the ball and it gets whipped inside you it's very difficult to recover and come back.”
With back-up goalie Murray Johnson heading out on a season-long loan next term and Kevin Dąbrowski set to leave at the end of his contract, Hibs are on the hunt for new arrivals between the sticks anyway – but might another high-profile error from the veteran inject a bit more urgency into the search for a serious challenger for the No.1 spot next season?
Passion followed by passiveness
Going into this game Hibs still had plenty to play, and while they started brightly enough in the first half, Hagi’s goal ten minutes into the second break seemed to extinguish any spark the hosts might have had left in them and save for a couple of efforts and Hanlon’s consolation goal, the hosts didn’t look like they believed themselves capable of clawing back the two-goal lead – or even getting back into the game.
It was in stark contrast to the performance against Aberdeen at Pittodrie last week, and it isn’t the first time this season that Hibs have followed up a barnstorming performance one week with a display that has just fizzled out the next. It might be psychological, it might be physical at the end of a season pockmarked by injuries, but far too many players seemed jaded on Sunday and with two important games remaining, Johnson will need to get his players mentally ready for two final pushes.
Another sliding doors moment
Such has been the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Hibs’ performances across the season, the ‘what-if’ moments have been regular occurrences. Sometimes it has been VAR moments that have gone against them; last week it was Nisbet’s missed penalty. Against Rangers it was Josh Campbell’s chance four minutes before the interval.
Élie Youan did well centrally to drive forward and dragged the ball out wide for Nisbet. The forward’s low cross to the back post was well timed for Campbell but the midfielder stretched and couldn’t direct the centre on target. Had he arrived a split-second sooner it may have been a goal, and the outcome of the match and potentially Hibs’ season could have been very different.