Livingston 1-0 Hibs: Two sent off as fans call for Jack Ross to be sacked
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At the end of an abject performance, summed up by Martin Boyle’s missed penalty and late red cards for Paul McGinn and Paul Hanlon, the fans turned on their manager. “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” came the chant.
Jack McMillan’s goal early in the first half was ultimately enough for Livingston to end their run of six games without a win.
Hibs wnt into meltdown. They now have just one win in nine and this result and performance is probably the worst of the lot.
Devoid of creativity, they were hassled and harried out of it by an energetic and determined Livingston team inspired by the superb Alan Forrest.
It was frustration which led to McGinn and Hanlon both picking up second yellow cards in the last few minutes, heaping more pressure on Ross as the games kept coming thick and fast. It isn’t getting any easier.
The head coach has been sticking, more or less, with the same XI throughout what is an extremely busy schedule.
Jamie Murphy for Chris Cadden, who picked up a knock in the 1-1 draw against Motherwell on Saturday, was the only personnel change for this game, but there was a notable change of shape.
The 4-2-3-1 formation which was effective in the second half against Motherwell stayed, Murphy joining Josh Campbell and Martin Boyle as the trio supporting the rejuvenated Kevin Nisbet in attack.
It gave Hibs control early on. Jake Doyle-Hayes, catching the eye almost as much as his bright peach boots, saw plenty of the ball at the base of the midfield alongside Joe Newell, as the visitors probed. But the picture changed in one frantic minute.
Andrew Shinnie, who had headed off the line to deny Murphy from close range in the tenth minute, broke free down the left and his cross was swept home at the back post by McMillan.
Within 60 seconds of the restart Hibs had engineered a golden opportunity to equalise, Boyle going down on the edge of the six-yard box as Livingston centre-back Tom Parkes sought to stop his progress.
If the penalty looked soft, Boyle’s ballooned effort over the bar from the spot gave the impression that the ball was soft too. It was a beachball effort and suddenly Hibs were all at sea.
Ross saw fit to make a double change at the interval, throwing on Scott Allan and Christian Doidge for Murphy and Josh Campbell, who was on the receiving end of a couple of hefty challenges and could well have had a penalty himself towards the end of the first half.
Allan was introduced to create something, not to defend. But his first meaningful involvement was a sliding clearance to cut out a Livingston cross at his near post.
It wasn’t going to plan for Hibs. A short back-pass from Porteous almost gifted a chance for Forrest, a thorn in the visitors’ side all night with his pace and trickery.
Allan, deployed wide on the left, blazed a Nisbet cut-back over the bar. Hanlon was lucky to escape with just a yellow card for a clumsy high challenge on Shinnie just outside the box, denying the Livingston man with a clear run in on goal.
The Hibs captain was moving up to sixth in the all-time list on what was his 486th appearance for the club, but this was not one he will want to remember.
The introduction of Cristian Montana from Livingston’s bench gave him and Porteous another problem – even more pace over the top on the break. Another mistimed challenge and Hanlon was off, following McGinn up the tunnel.
With David Martindale’s team slicing through the visiting defence and bossing the midfield too, Hibs couldn’t cope.
For all the talk of decent performances, results have not followed. Since August, the Easter Road side have only managed to beat St Johnstone in the league twice. That simply isn’t good enough.
Livingston: Stryjek; Devlin, Fitzwater, Parkes, Penrice; Holt, Omeonga, McMillan (Pittman 70), Sibbald (Montano 59), Forrest; Shinnie. Subs not used: Maley, Kelly, Obileye, Panayiotou, Anderson.
Hibernian: Macey; McGinn, Porteous (McGregor 89), Hanlon, Doig; Campbell, Newell; Boyle, Campbell (Doidge 45), Murphy (Allan 45); Nisbet. Subs not used: Dabrowski, Gogic, Stevenson, Allan.
Referee: Don Robertson.