Hibs 1-0 Cove Rangers AET: Kevin Nisbet sends Hibs through after mammoth cup battle

Kevin Nisbet climbed off the bench to fire Hibs into the next round of the Scottish Cup at the expense of a well-drilled Cove Rangers side that more than matched their Scottish Premiership opponents for large parts of the game.

By Patrick McPartlin
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 10:19 pm
Updated Friday, 21st January 2022, 12:27 am

With the teams unable to be separated after 90 minutes, and a goalless first 15 minutes of extra time, Nisbet turned in Josh Doig’s cross from close range with eight minutes remanining to snatch victory for the hosts.

With five changes to the team that started against Celtic on Monday night, some of the ballwork in the opening exchanges was rusty.

Shaun Maloney handed debuts to Ewan Henderson and Chris Mueller, with Christian Doidge preferred to Kevin Nisbet in a new-look frontline.

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Kevin Nisbet wheels away after scoring the winner

Melker Hallberg made his first competitive start since May 15 last year in a back three while Lewis Stevenson was handed a start in defence.

It took Hibs until 21 minutes to register their first real attempt on goal, the lively Mueller trying his luck from distance.

Henderson had already sent a free kick well over Kyle Gourlay's bar, while Doidge powered a header just wide from a Henderson cross moments later.

Morgyn Neill gave Matt Macey something to think about with Cove's first chance just after the half-hour mark but the 'keeper took it easily enough down low to his left.

Shortly afterwards Josh Campbell hassled Ryan Strachan around 20 yards from goal. The ball broke to Doidge, who slid it past Gourlay but his celebrations were short-lived with the offside flag raised - although it looked tight and there can't have been much in it.

Mueller had another go from range as the interval drew closer, the American winger enjoying his first taste of European football.

From a well-worked corner kick, Henderson picked out Campbell, whose clipped cross was met by Doidge whose overhead kick was accurate but didn't cause Gourlay too much bother.

Doig nearly broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, meeting Chris Cadden's cross on the volley but although Gourlay looked to have brilliantly tipped it over, a goal kick was given.

Cadden's work on the right-hand side would have drawn approval from Martin Boyle, who was watching on from the stands. The talismanic winger looks to have all but played his last game for Hibs, with a new bid from Saudi Arabian side Al-Faisaly likely to be accepted before the weekend.

The second half began in similar fashion, with Hibs struggling to break down the League One leaders. With no real chances of note, Maloney brought on Nisbet and Jamie Murphy for Doidge and Henderson, but chances remained at a premium.

A Cadden cross was scooped over the bar for a corner while at the other end Jamie Masson reminded Macey of Cove’s attacking threat with a well-struck shot from distance.

Nisbet thumped a free kick off the wall while Mueller had another couple of attempts from close in as extra-time beckoned.

Doig came close to the opener early in extra time but his low effort went the wrong side of the post, with Gourlay doing well to narrow the angle.

Substitute James Scott was then inches away from connecting with a wicked cross from Doig, and it was the teenage full-back who engineered the winner with his ball for Nisbet.

Hibs: Macey, Cadden, Hanlon, Stevenson, Doig, Campbell, Hallberg (Doyle-Hayes 82), Henderson (Murphy 59), Newell, Mueller (Scott 90), Doidge (Nisbet 59). Subs not used: Dabrowski, Wright, Gogic, Allan, Mackie.

Cove Rangers: Gourlay, Neill, Milne, Scully, Ross, Strachan (Anderson 90), Yule, Megginson, McIntosh (McAllister 68), Fyvie (Leitch 82), Masson (Reynolds 68). Subs not used: McKenzie, Adeyemo.