Kevin Nisbet: Shaun Maloney hopes connection between striker and Hibs fans 'is starting to change’

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Shaun Maloney praised match winner Kevin Nisbet and said he was “relieved” to get through to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.

The 24-year-old striker came off the bench to score the winner in the 112th minute after a difficult week when he came in for heavy criticism for a glaring miss and poor performance against Celtic.

Maloney was delighted for the striker and said he is learning more about why he has been criticised thisseason.

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"I’ve obviously inherited that,” he said. “I’m starting to learn more why that is. From my point of view, he’s been really, really good. In terms of his commitment. There was a great moment when the fans actually appreciated the work he did out of possession.

Hibs manager Shaun Maloney congratulates Kevin Nisbet at full timeHibs manager Shaun Maloney congratulates Kevin Nisbet at full time
Hibs manager Shaun Maloney congratulates Kevin Nisbet at full time

"He brings that quality. He has a chance and that’s what No 9s do. They have chances, they miss them. They have chances they score them.

"At Kevin’s level, I think he’ll score more and I’m really pleased for him. I hope that connection between him and the fans is starting to change. Honestly he’s been so committed for me.”

Maloney expected a tough game from Cove, who are top of League One, but felt his team could have done more in the final third to break down their resistance.

In the end, though, he was relieved to go through.

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“I actually thought we got better as the game went on,” Maloney added. “We started to create more chances. My experience in these competitions, in Scotland and England, tells me I have to be very happy to be in the next round.”

Maloney was satisfied with debuts for Ewan Henderson and Chris Meuller, who supported Christian Doidge in attack as part of five changes to the team that lost 2-0 to Celtic on Monday.

The manager added: “I think with Ewan, he hasn’t played for a long time, but he can be really pleased that he played 60 minutes.

"I thought Chris Mueller was actually very good considering he hasn’t played for such a long time.

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"He can be really pleased with what he did today. I was really pleased for Chris.”

Cove manager Paul Hartley said: "I'm really proud of the players with the performance they put in against a good Hibs team. There wasn't a lot between the two teams.”