Hibs 2, Livingston 3: Hibs twice throw away lead as Lions roar back for victory

Hibs twice threw away the lead against Livingston as Shaun Maloney tasted defeat for the first time at Easter Road.

By Patrick McPartlin
Saturday, 29th January 2022, 5:14 pm
Updated Saturday, 29th January 2022, 5:18 pm
Demi Mitchell of Hibs and Livingston's Stephane Omeonga battle for the ball at Easter Road
Demi Mitchell of Hibs and Livingston's Stephane Omeonga battle for the ball at Easter Road

Ayo Obileye cancelled out Demetri Mitchell’s opener on his first start for Hibs and Chris Cadden restored the lead before half-time. But a Jack Fitzwater header and a well-taken goal by Alan Forrest produced a come-from-behind victory for the Lions.

Christian Doidge, restored to the starting line-up, smacked the post with a header with barely five minutes on the clock, but Hibs went one better seconds later when Cadden’s cross from the right went all the way through to the back post for Mitchell to slam the ball in from a near impossible angle to fire the hosts in front on his home debut.

Virtually straight from the kick-off there was drama at the other end. Odin Bailey surged into the box and went down as Matt Macey challenged for the ball. Referee Grant Irvine pointed straight to the penalty spot but with the goalkeeper incensed, the East Stand linesman appeared to convince the official to change his call and a goal kick was given.

Ten minutes later, Livingston did equalise. Bailey aimed his free kick towards the towering figure of Obileye and the centre-back got his head to the ball ahead of Macey to square the game.

Moments later Hibs had a penalty shout when goalscorer Mitchell went down under a challenge from former Hibee Stephane Omeonga but there didn’t seem much in it and the referee wasn’t convinced.

Hibs were forced into an early change on 20 minutes when Paul McGinn picked up a knock and Rocky Bushiri came on in his place.

Shortly before the half-hour mark Nouble, who gave the Hibs defence a torrid time throughout his time on the pitch, curled a shot just wide of Macey’s left-hand post.

Hibs retook the lead in fortuitous circumstances. Cadden drove forwards from just inside the Livingston half and crossed the ball from the right flank, his effort possibly taking a touch off a defender to carry it over Max Stryjek and into the net.

The first period fizzled out towards the break with Bailey firing a free kick wide shortly before the interval.

Livingston started the second half strongly, Forrest causing Hibs all sorts of problems in the final third, and an equaliser seemed inevitable.

Fitzwater provided another leveller on 53 minutes, nipping in between a static home defence to head the ball into the unguarded net. Macey had done well to save Forrest’s initial shot in the build-up to the goal but questions might be asked of his positioning for the goal.

Forrest then had a chance to put the visitors in front but his overhead kick from Nouble’s cross was straight at Macey. Sixty seconds later he went one better, gathering the ball after Josh Campbell was dispossessed, cutting in from the left and curling a shot into the far corner.

Hibs boss Shaun Maloney reacted by throwing on Chris Mueller and Jamie Murphy for Doidge and Campbell but bar a Mueller header and a handful of shots by Kevin Nisbet, Hibs didn’t look like pulling level.

Despite two goals – both scored by wingbacks – Hibs again struggled in attack, something that will need addressed before Tuesday’s Edinburgh derby.

Hibs: Macey, McGinn (Bushiri 22), Porteous, Stevenson (Doig 73), Cadden, Doyle-Hayes, Campbell (Mueller 65), Mitchell (Scott 73), Henderson, Nisbet, Doidge (Murphy 65). Subs not used: Dabrowski, Newell, Wright, Allan.

Livingston: Stryjek, Devlin, Longridge (Montano 46), Fitzwater, Obileye, Pittman (Shinnie 76), Bailey, Forrest (Boyes 88), Holt, Nouble (Anderson 76), Omeonga. Subs not used: Maley, Lewis, McMillan, Chukwuemeka, Penrice.