'Another long night for Hibs fans': Journalists' predictions for Kilmarnock v Hibs
Our online team try to predict the winner from tonight's clash at Rugby Park in the Betfred Cup quarter-final.
Craig Fowler: The best route to victory for a typical struggling side going to face this Kilmarnock team at Rugby Park would be to try and make it as dire a football match as possible. The Rugby Park club have been accused of doing this themselves in their renaissance over the past two years, but in this match they'll have the pressure of being favourites and the expectation that they must be the team to break the other down. Whether the attack, which was weakened in the summer window, has the ability to do so consistently against resolute defences remains to be seen and it's more than likely we'll see a few slip ups in Ayrshire as Killie aim another assault on the European places. Unfortunately, Hibs are not built to be a smash-and-grab team. There's no bite in the side. They have to outplay opponents in order to win and, regardless of whether it's a lack of confidence or a lack of talent, they really don't seem to have that capability at the moment. It's likely to be another long night for the Hibs fans. Prediction: Killie win
Patrick McPartlin: Tonight’s game is a strange one for Hibs. Win, and they will almost certainly face a trip to Hampden and a cash boost; lose and it could either set the tone for the rest of the season or allow the Easter Road side to focus on the league. That being said, with Celtic coming to town on Saturday, this evening’s clash represents a chance to get a positive result. Heckingbottom’s side showed signs of improvement on their last visit to Rugby Park and despite Sunday’s derby result, there were patches of good play. I still think there will be a result where things just “click” for Hibs - it nearly happened at the weekend, so it could happen tonight. There will be a number of players looking to make an impact and stake a claim for regular first-team football, and I wonder whether Killie might have one eye on a winnable home clash with Ross County on Saturday allowing Hibs to sneak a first win in four matches. Prediction: Hibs to qualify
Neil McGlade: There were 902 Hibs fans who made the trip to Rugby Park when the sides met on league duty 11 days ago. I shudder to think of just how many hardy souls will undertake that same journey to Ayrshire tonight. Hibs are in free fall and Sunday’s derby defeat has done little to alleviate the pressure on Heckingbottom. A break from Premiership duty tonight should afford the Hibs management team the opportunity to tinker with a few things. What have they really got to lose? The tactics and personnel deployed so far this season have fallen way below what’s expected. I’d like to say this is the match that can swing things in Hibs favour again but I simply don’t see anything other than Kilmarnock being in the hat for the semi-final draw. Prediction: Kilmarnock win.
Joel Sked: Everything points to a Killie win: the last time Hibs visited Rugby Park they were eased aside, fans are unhappy with Heckingbottom, there's a lack of balance in the midfield, and they're coming into it after a derby loss with Kilmarnock steadily improving under Angelo Alessio. Yet, something tells me this is a game which will be edged by the away side to keep the manager in his position, for a few more weeks at least. There is not one bit of logic about that suggestion. But football can be like that. Prediction: Hibs win