Matt Macey: How former Arsenal and Plymouth Argyle goalkeeper fared on Hibs debut

Matt Macey performed well on his Hibs debutMatt Macey performed well on his Hibs debut
Matt Macey performed well on his Hibs debut
Just after signing for Hibs Matt Macey admitted that starting against Celtic at Parkhead would be a big game in which to make his debut for the club.

He wasn’t wrong but not even Nostradamus could have predicted the events that preceded the Scottish Premiership clash; the match almost taking a backseat after a busy day of SPFL threats, positive Covid-19 tests, and the news that 16 of Celtic’s playing staff and backroom team including manager Neil Lennon had been ordered to self-isolate.

In some ways, the circus surrounding the Hoops’ mid-season trip to Dubai and the subsequent fall-out may have helped take the spotlight off Macey but he may also have felt a bit deflated at facing Cameron Harper and Mikey Johnston rather than the potent pairing of Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths, even if most goalkeepers would jump at the chance to face a less daunting Celtic strikeforce.

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Routine saves and fingertips

Macey had several touches of the ball in the first half; beating away a powerful long-range shot from David Turnbull and clutching a similar effort from Tom Rogic at the second attempt.

He was perhaps fortunate on one occasion that Harper’s inexperience showed as he opted to shoot from an acute angle rather than cutting it back, and the 26-year-old foiled Harper again when he plucked his cross out of the air.

It wasn’t until shortly before half-time that Macey was really tested: Celtic midfielder Ismaila Soro tried his luck from around 25 yards out and with the ball dipping the debutant got his fingertips to it and deflected it over the bar for a corner.

From the resultant set-piece he punched the ball well clear of the box and wasn't really tested again until he made a routine save from a Johnston effort with around 20 minutes left to play.

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Despite his height and reach, it's hard to point the finger at Macey for Turnbull’s free kick goal; it was sweetly struck and was right in the corner.

All in all, Macey had an impressive debut for Hibs. His handling was firm in tricky conditions, he made two or three very good saves, and his distribution was generally fine.

Marciano challenge?

With the caveat that he has only played 90 minutes against a second-string Celtic side, the Bath-born shot-stopper looks to have been a good bit of business by the Easter Road side.

There is presumably a chance that Kevin Dabrowski could head out on loan again once Ofir Marciano recovers from injury and, just as they did when Adam Bogdan was on the books, in Macey and the Israeli Hibs will have two strong goalkeepers both worthy of a starting berth while the third-choice gets valuable game time elsewhere.

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Macey is clearly desperate to be playing regularly after several years at Arsenal in which he was regularly the bridesmaid but never the bride.

He has a chance to stake a claim for a regular start under Jack Ross with first-choice ‘keeper Marciano currently sidelined. His display against the champions suggests he will have given the Easter Road coaching staff plenty to think about.

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