Three things we learned from Kilmarnock v Hibs

Three things we gleaned from the match between Kilmarnock and Hibs at Rugby Park

Saturday, 14th September 2019, 4:49 pm
Rugby Park, the scene of today's action between Kilmarnock and Hibs. Pic: SNS
Rugby Park, the scene of today's action between Kilmarnock and Hibs. Pic: SNS

1. Ryan Porteous is back. Hibs fans have been longing for the return of the young central defender for weeks having missed his no-nonsense approach to dealing with opposition strikers. Recovering from surgery to a damaged knee ligament has been a lengthy process, his only taste of action in a green and white shirt since the end of January a run-out for the development squad in their Challenge Cup tie against Elgin City. A full 90 minutes for Scotland’s Under-21 side in Croatia in midweek earned him a recall for the trip to Rugby Park and a thumping tackle which left Killie striker Eamonn Brophy floored seven minutes before half-time was evidence aplenty that Porteous, although he understandably tired a bit, has lost none of his love for a meaty challenge.

Sign up to our Hibs football newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

2. Paul Heckingbottom had spoken in the build-up to this match of the difficulties some players might be experiencing having come into Scottish football for the first time, not just adapting to the style of the game up here but the fact that for a number of them it was also a case of having uprooted their families. Whether that influenced his thinking will be open to debate, but six of his summer signings could only find a seat on the bench. The latest two arrivals, Melker Hallberg and Jason Naismith, however, were handed debuts. But while the Swede added a presence in the middle of the park, Naismith appeared to be caught too high up the pitch as Stephen O’Donnell’s pass found the space in behind him for Liam Millar to open the scoring.

3. Hibs badly need to learn how to take better care of the ball when in possession, Heckingbottom’s side guilty of far too many slack, misplaced passes which prevented them putting Kilmarnock under any sustained pressure. Scott Allan was out of sorts in the middle of the park and, allied to his team-mates inability to find another green and white shirt so often, it left the Easter Road side again lacking a cutting edge. Killie goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu did have two saves to make, both in the first half, but on each occasion you’d have backed the Italian to have made them, rising each time to tip over an effort from Daryl Horgan and then Stevie Mallan’s free-kick. Heckingbottom brought on Christian Doidge to partner Flo Kamberi up-front for the final 20 minutes but it made little difference. The lack of goals - just four scored in five league games - must be as alarming for the Hibs head coach as those they are conceding.