Hibs Under-18s: Title is in touching distance - but what needs to happen for league glory?

Goals from Ethan Laidlaw, Mack Weir, and Malik Zaid gave Hibs Under-18s a 3-0 victory on the road against Aberdeen on Tuesday in a win vital for the wee Hibees’ title aspirations.

But with the end of the season looming closer, and Gareth Evans’ side top of the table, what needs to happen for the young team to taste glory and secure European football next term?

Tell me about the games in hand…

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The under-18 teams play 32 games; clubs in the nine-strong league facing each other four times. For various reasons Hibs have only played 24, while nearest challengers Rangers have played 28. Other teams in the league have played 27, 28, 29 or in Kilmarnock’s case, 30 games.

Hibs still have eight games to play to complete their season.

Can anyone else win the league?

Yes – although if Hibs win their next four games it’s a moot point.

Second-placed Rangers are on 57 points, one behind Hibs, but with four fewer games to play. Essentially Hibs just have to win as many of their remaining games as possible to secure the title.

Hibs Under-18s have the league title in their sights. Picture: Maurice Dougan

Hearts are in third with 50 points but the maximum points they can finish with is 59. Hibs and Rangers would both have to lose their remaining games to give the wee Jambos a shot at glory.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Who do Hibs still have to play?

Hibs face Celtic at HTC on Friday May 6, before hosting Motherwell on Sunday May 8. They then face Dundee United on May 10 and Hearts on May 13.

On top of that there are still games to be played against Rangers, Hearts, Dundee United, and Motherwell.

How the Under-18 league table looks
Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Quite what happens if Hibs win their next four games and can’t be caught remains to be seen – but the end of the season is pencilled in for mid-May and there is a very real chance that not all matches will be played.

How have Hibs been playing?

In some games they have been blowing away the opposition – just ask Hamilton, Motherwell, and Dundee United. They have lost just twice, both 1-0 defeats at HTC by Hearts and Aberdeen respectively in recent weeks.

The side might be missing key forward Josh O’Connor, and starting left-wingback Oscar MacIntyre has also sat out the last two games, but there is still plenty in the squad to grind out wins. Malik Zaid has returned from injury to hit four goals in four games and there are goal contributions from all positions, not just the prolific O’Connor and Connor Young.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sounds good. Can some of them play in the first team?

O’Connor has already made his debut while Jacob Blaney, Ethan Laidlaw, and Oscar MacIntyre have been unused substitutes over the last season and a bit, while most of the under-18s have trained with the first team this season.

But they face a hectic end to their own season and with strict guidelines around how many minutes they can play in a 24-hour period, we’re unlikely to see any feature in the final three games of the Scottish Premiership season.

Next season then?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The revived development squad will help bridge the gap between under-18s and first team next season, with the games providing a tougher test for the academy players.

If they can cope well with the step up in opposition in the dev squad, then it will do their first-team hopes the world of good, but the gap is significant – and Hibs want them to be fully ready for senior action.