After Ryan Gauld’s eye-catching debut against Elgin City at the weekend, Hibs fans were hopeful that the presence of the on-loan Sporting Lisbon midfielder, along with debutant Stephane Omeonga, would help the team get back on track in the league.
A cold Wednesday night in Motherwell, against a side with a point to prove following their weekend humbling by Ross County, was hardly the ideal setting for two players who have been used to sunnier climes this season, in Portugal and Italy respectively.
Gauld, perhaps understandably given that he is already familiar with the hustle and bustle of Scottish football, was the livelier of the two new boys, showing fleeting moments of quality, but he was generally unable to influence the match the way he would have liked. The former Dundee United player started wide right in a 4-2-3-1 but was generally kept at bay in the first half apart from one impressive bit of play in the Motherwell half that saw him feed Daryl Horgan for a shot.
Omeonga, meanwhile, struggled to get into the game as the hosts seized the upper hand before the break. With Marvin Bartley and Stevie Mallan sitting at the base of midfield, the on-loan Genoa player was the most advanced central midfielder but he was unable to impact proceedings. He was booked for a foul on Allan Campbell shortly the break and didn’t reappear for the second half as Vykintas Slivka came on in his place. Neil Lennon said afterwards that this was because he didn’t want the Belgian getting sent off on his debut and was no reflection of his performance, although supporters will hope for more from their newest recruit in the weeks and months ahead.
Substitute Slivka was stationed on the right when he entered the fray, with Gauld moving into Omeonga’s central berth and it was from here that the 23-year-old Scot produced his best moment of the game with a sublime pass releasing Horgan for his team’s clearest chance of the match. Although he looked hungry enough to make an impact and was his team’s most threatening player on the night, Gauld, like all of his team-mates, will be hoping for more fruitful outings going forward.