Hibs’ slump continued as they were well beaten by Kilmarnock on a day when their best chance of a positive result appeared to be a power issue at Rugby Park which caused two interruptions to play in the second half.
The Easter Road side, who had taken just two points from their previous five matches, trailed 2-0 when the floodlights suddenly went out in the 52nd minute. With Hibs having been abject up until this point, their supporters celebrated gleefully at the prospect of an abandonment as the players were taken off the pitch with darkness descending over the Ayrshire stadium. After a delay of around 15 minutes, play resumed for another quarter of an hour before another blackout in the 68th minute left the home support fretting. The lights came back on again, however, and the match was able to be completed as Hibs went a sixth match in succession without victory and slipped to eighth in the Premiership.
Hibs had made three changes to the side that began the 2-2 draw with Dundee a week previously as Miquel Nelom, Darren McGregor and Steven Whittaker replaced Daryl Horgan, Lewis Stevenson and Jamie Maclaren, all of whom were listed among the substitutes. This meant Hibs started the match with four centre-backs, a holding midfielder and two full-backs in their lineup. Neil Lennon deployed his defender-heavy team in a 3-5-2 formation, with ball-playing centre-back Efe Ambrose moved into midfield in what appeared to be an effort to stifle Kilmarnock. Things didn’t go to plan. Hibs fell behind in the sixth minute when Jordan Jones got the better of Paul Hanlon on the left of the penalty area and cut the ball back for Eamonn Brophy, who had plenty time to fire a shot past the exposed Adam Bogdan from eight yards out.
The visitors threatened an equaliser in the 13th minute when Martin Boyle fizzed an angled half-volley just over the bar from 15 yards out after being picked out by a diagonal pass from Ryan Porteous. At the other end, Killie almost struck again when Rory McKenzie rasped a shot agonisingly wide of Bogdan’s right-hand post from the edge of the box.
Hibs were offering little as an attacking force and they conceded a second goal in the 34th minute when Brophy converted a penalty after McGregor had fouled Jones.
Having witnessed one of the most abject first-half displays of his reign, Lennon responded by replacing defensive duo Whittaker and McGregor with attack-minded pair Oli Shaw and Horgan and changing the formation to 4-4-2.
After seven minutes of the second half, the lights went out suddenly for the first time. When the match eventually resumed, Horgan was denied by home goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann after getting into a promising position on the left. At the other end, Bogdan had to make a good save to keep out Jones’ powerful strike from the edge of the box.
The lights then went out for a second time in the 68th minute, prompting genuine concern about whether the match could be concluded. The bulbs were duly reignited, but Hibs, wearing their luminous away kit, were unable to find any spark in the remaining 23 minutes, with Greg Stewart sealing Kilmarnock’s victory in stoppage time when he ran clear to chip the ball beyond Bogdan.
Kilmarnock: Bachmann, O’Donnell, Broadfoot, S Boyd, Taylor, McKenzie (Burke 72), Dicker, Power, Jones, Stewart, Brophy (Tshibola 58). Subs not used: MacDonald, Byrne, Ndjoli, K Boyd, Millen.
Hibs: Bogdan, Porteous, McGregor, Hanlon, Whittaker (Shaw 46), Ambrose, Milligan (Stevenson , Mallan, Nelom, Kamberi, Boyle. Subs not used: Marciano, Maclaren, Mackie, Mavrias. Booked: Boyle.
Ref: Craig Thomson
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