Matt Macey proves there's life after Ofir Marciano as Hibs goalkeeper shines at Tynecastle
When Ofir Marciano packed his bags for pastures new in the summer there was an understandable feeling of loss among the Hibs support.
The 31-year-old succeeded where many of his predecessors had failed: proving a safe, reliable pair of hands capable of the spectacular between the sticks.
Marciano and wife Shelly, not to mention first-born child Sun, took to Hibs and Edinburgh as much as the club and the fans took to them.
He developed a reputation for big saves in big games, bailing his side out time and again. His highlights reels were things of beauty.
So when Matt Macey was brought to Easter Road in January there was a feeling that Hibs were already planning for the eventual departure of Marciano.
Given a chance to shine just days after his arrival, he gave a good account of himself in a 1-1 draw with Celtic and played in the side’s Scottish Cup run, saving a penalty in the final that was virtually forgotten as St Johnstone ran out 1-0 winners.
"When we brought Matt to the club in January it was to help us solve a problem because we didn't have a strong competitor for Ofir,” Ross said after the derby.
"Matt knew the position he was coming into; Ofir’s performances had been really good but we knew he was leaving so in that period Matt used it as an opportunity to show how good he could be.
"Playing in the cup games last year might have been a gamble in some people’s eyes, but he helped us get to the final and almost win it.
"His record as a goalkeeper for us has been terrific; I think he’s only lost one maybe two games.
"He’s at a good age to grab that opportunity – he wants to be an established No.1, he has ambitions in his career and hopefully we can help him realise them.”
Macey’s record for Hibs is impressive: 18 games played, 15 goals conceded, nine clean sheets, and just two defeats – the Scottish Cup final, and the second leg of the Europa Conference League third-round tie against HNK Rijeka.
This season alone there have been saves against Dundee, and now Hearts, where he has kept Hibs in the game or frustrated opposition forwards.
At Tynecastle he denied Gary Mackay-Steven on several occasions and Alex Cochrane early in the second half but perhaps the pick of the bunch was a flying leap to claw a Paul Hanlon clearance out from under the crossbar at the death.
A clean sheet on his derby debut is a heck of a marker to lay down.
It feels particularly apt that Macey should have the game of his life in a Hibs shirt – so far – at the home of the club’s biggest rivals. More than a few goalkeepers representing the Easter Road side have made the short trip to EH11 and blundered, or conceded four or even five goals. It feels like a while since we talked about a Hibs goalkeeper stealing the show in Gorgie for all the right reasons.
Marciano left huge gloves to fill when he left in the summer but in Macey, Hibs have a ‘keeper more than capable of ushering in a new regime between the sticks.