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

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

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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.

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.

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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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