Hibs v Celtic: Three things we learned from the game

Here's three things we learned from the Premiership match between Hibs and Celtic at Easter Road

By David Hardie
Saturday, 28th September 2019, 3:32 pm
Easter Road Stadium, the scene of today's Premiership match between Hibs and Celtic. Pic: SNS
Easter Road Stadium, the scene of today's Premiership match between Hibs and Celtic. Pic: SNS

1 Hibs appear to have rediscovered the fighting spirit which has been lacking in recent weeks, leading head coach Paul Heckingbottom to brand them as being soft. There was more aggression to their play at Rugby Park as they secured their place in the semi-finals of the Betfred Cup and they backed that up bcy showing they were prepared to go toe-to-toe with Celtic. Tempers flared at times, not least that of Heckingbottom himself as he was sent to the stand after raging at fourth official Nick Walsh who, apparently, had awarded the foul which led to Ryan Christie cancelling out Hibs’ early opener. Heckingbottom also kicked a water bottle which hit assistant referee Alan Mulvanny, a clear accident, but didn’t help his case.

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It was hard not to have sympathy for the Yorkshireman, with referee Kevin Clancy seemingly happy to allow play, with the home side on the attack, to continue. Heckingbottom will no doubt be summoned to face the authorities at Hampden to explain his actions.

2 Steven Whittaker showed his versatility as he was thrown in as a make-shift centre half after Adam Jackson was led off the pitch after only 30 minutes looking decidedly groggy following a head clash with Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard. Whittaker has found himself looking on for a few weeks but the former Rangers, Norwich and Scotland man used all his experience alongside Paul Hanlon in what was a totally unfamiliar position for him. The last thing Hibs needed with Darren McGregor out with an abdominal injury and Ryan Porteous suspended following his red card against Kilmarnock was another mishap to befall a central defender. The 35-year-old looked a bit ill at ease at times but typified the resolve displayed by the capital side as he stuck to his task alongside Paul Hanlon.

3 How Hibs must wish they could play Celtic at Easter Road every week. A visit from the Glasgow club always seems to bring out the best in them, the Hoops having not won in the league in the east end of Edinburgh since January, 2014. Again, the capital club made life hard for their visitors even if, as you would expect they perhaps enjoyed a slice of luck here and there, but few would deny they thoroughly merited what many would have regarded as an unlikely point. It was by far the best performance they have turned in this season and one which must have left Heckingbottom wondering why it’s taken to this point to turn in such a display. But it is one he will now, rightly, be demanding on a weekly basis to take them away from the foot of the Premiership table.