Hibs U18s 4, Rangers U18s 2: Hibs extend unbeaten run with victory over league-leaders

Hibs survived two fightbacks by Rangers to record a 4-2 victory in their latest CAS Elite Under-18s League encounter at the Hibernian Training Centre.

A Murray Aiken goal had the hosts ahead at half-time before an Ethan Laidlaw strike from distance doubled their advantage.

Rory Wilson pulled one back for Rangers before Laidlaw restored Hibs’ two-goal lead. James Graham gave the visitors hope but Connor Young made the points safe at the death.

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Friday night’s victory took Hibs to eight points off top, with seven games in hand against Rangers, who currently top the league.

Ethan Laidlaw grabbed a brace as Hibs U18s saw off Rangers at HTC. Picture: Maurice Dougan

Gareth Evans made one change to his side, restoring Jacob Blaney to the starting line-up after his return from injury while Malik Zaid dropped to the bench. Aiken, who has been filling in at centre-back, took Zaid’s place in midfield.

There wasn’t much between the sides in the opening exchanges with Laidlaw seeing a shot saved after Young’s perfectly-weighted through-ball and Rangers reduced to efforts from distance.

Aiken opened the scoring when he capitalised on a slack pass and although Jack McConnell saved his initial effort the midfielder did well to convert the rebound.

Josh O’Connor dragged an effort just wide after springing the offside trap and Aiken had a presentable opportunity after good work by Young but McConnell intervened.

Robbie Hamilton then had a shot headed off the line following a post-corner stramash in the penalty area.

Hibs started the second half strongly, with O’Connor heading just wide. Mack Weir then came close from a corner while Rangers defender Greig Allen was lucky not to see red for a late challenge on Young, whose effort from the resultant free kick was straight at McConnell.

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Jacob MacIntyre sent a powerful effort wide as Hibs sought a second goal, and Laidlaw duly provided it ten minutes after the break as he rifled an effort into the top left-handcorner to double Hibs’ advantage.

Wilson reduced the deficit seconds later as he finished from the edge of the area after a defensive mix-up but Laidlaw restored the Hibees’ two-goal lead with a well-placed effort from the edge of the box.

Graham then set up a thrilling finale when he bundled home after seeing his initial shot parried by Murray Johnson but Young sealed the victory after a swift counter-attack involving O’Connor and Aiken.

Hibs: Johnson, J MacIntyre (McCulloch 82), Blaney, Weir, Megwa, O MacIntyre, Hamilton, Aiken, Laidlaw, Young (Zaid 84), O’Connor. Subs not used: Blair, Hastie, Wylie, Watt, Molotnikov.

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