Mixed bag as Hibs battle back for potentially precious point - ratings from Pittodrie

More VAR controversy as penalty appeal denied
Boyle opened the scoring for HibsBoyle opened the scoring for Hibs
Boyle opened the scoring for Hibs

Hibs fought back from 2-1 down to earn a battling point against Aberdeen at Pittodrie – but still left the Granite City feeling aggrieved over the denial of an apparent stonewall penalty. On a day when VAR overturned an obviously incorrect offside decision to rule that substitute Emiliano Marcondes’ equaliser should stand, an earlier non-decision not to penalise a clear Nicky Devlin handball left Nick Montgomery’s men – still without a league win since December 9 - wondering what might have been.

A goal apiece inside the opening quarter hour, Devlin’s close-range effort cancelling out Martin Boyle’s opener just moments earlier, set the tone for an afternoon of penalty-box hijinks and hilarity. A Jamie McGrath strike early in the second half put the Dons into the lead early in the second half – before Marcondes made it 2-2. It could have been worse. And might have been better.

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Set up to contain Neil Warnock’s Aberdeen, squeeze at the right moments and hit on the break, Monty’s men capitalised on a horrible clearance by Dons goalie Kelle Roos to open the scoring after just 11 minutes. Joe Newell returned the sclaffed kickout into the danger area, Myziane Maolida showed great strength and touch to roll Stevan Gartenmann before finding Boyle, who rounded Roos before slotting home from a tight angle.

The visitors could only hold onto their lead four three minutes. And no-one among the travelling support would have been surprised that the home side’s equaliser came from the second ball at a set-piece; it’s been a recurring flaw in this defence.

Although the initial Dons free-kick from out wide didn’t clear the first man, the Hibs line was ragged when the ball was played back in from a central area, Nectar Triantis – who had conceded the foul to create the opportunity for the home side - playing Bojan Miovski onside. David Marshall did well to stop the striker’s effort, but Devlin beat Triantis to the rebound, sliding into score from close range.

Aberdeen had two clearcut chances to take the lead before the half-time. Marshall reacting brilliantly to foil in-form Miovski in a one-on-one, before Leighton Clarkson hit the post from the centre-forward’s astute cut-back. Hibs still looked dangerous on the break, although the VAR check for Devlin’s risky use of that mighty left arm – which was extended from his body and clearly moved TOWARDS the Jordan Obita delivery from way out on the left wing - was as close as they got to a goal before the interval.

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They were buzzing in and around the home penalty box with intent often enough, the trickery of Elie Youan and the energy of Nathan Moriah-Welsh threatening to open gaps in the red line. Just without finding a finishing touch.

If Aberdeen weren’t exactly lethal in the final third, they didn’t need to be. Because they were handed the lead on a silver platter by Hibs, who failed to cope with a low cross from the left, allowing McGrath time to set himself and score from close range.

The introduction of Marcondes and Jair Tavares made a difference for the visitors. As shown when the former tucked away Newell’s sharp cut-back with 66 minutes gone. That it took another two minutes for VAR to overrule the initial offside call against Newell only delayed the celebrations among the green-and-white ranks. Clear and obvious though, right?

The loss of first-choice goalie David Marshall to injury in the closing stages was an obvious concern to Hibs, who had chances to win. But settled for a point from a contest that grew increasingly ill-tempered during the TEN minutes of time added on.

How Hibs rated:

GK David Marshall 7/10

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Veteran goalie made a huge one-on-one stop from in-form Miovksi. Just one of several big saves. Injured and replaced by Wollacott late on.

RB Lewis Miller 6/10

Beaten far too easily by Duk for the cross leading to the second Dons goal. Better going forward.

CB Will Fish 5/10

Culpable at the second Aberdeen goal, when he couldn’t get his feet in order to thwart McGrath.

CB Nectar Triantis 5/10

Every game is a thrill ride with the young Aussie at centre-half. Clearly talented. But it’s white-knuckle stuff.

LB Jordan Obita 6/10

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One particularly good delivery from the left SHOULD have won Hibs a penalty.

CM Nathan Moriah-Welsh 6/10

Brought a lot of energy and drive to midfield. Replaced by Marcondes just before the hour mark.

CM Joe Newell 7/10

Excellently timed run, nice footwork and perfect cutback for equaliser. All-round performance.

CM Dylan Levitt 6/10

Looked after the ball well and still has the ability to play a really dangerous pass. Replaced by Amos for the closing 15 minutes.

W Elie Youan 5/10

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Infuriating, isn’t he? All that talent. Seen only in flashes. Continually turned back on himself. Replaced by Jair.

CF Myziane Maolida 7/10

Created the opener for Boyle with his strength and subtlety. Provides a good focal point up top.

W Martin Boyle 7/10

Took his chance to open the scoring brilliantly.  A constant threat often half a step ahead of his team-mates.

SUB Emiliano Marcondes 6/10

Superb finish for the equaliser. Brought real menace from the bench when introduced after 56 minutes.

SUB Jair Tavares 5/10

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Replaced Youan early in the second half. Struggled to get involved.

SUB Luke Amos NA

Thrown on for Levitt with 15 minutes to go.

SUB JoJo Wollacott NA

Second-choice goalie pressed into emergency service after 82 minutes. Made one straightforward injury-time save.

SUB Adam Le Fondre NA

Given a late run-out in place of Boyle.

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