Play-off joy for former Hibs ace as team avoids relegation with final-day victory

Red card didn’t derail survival bid
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Former Hibs defender Josh Doig and current club Hellas Verona avoided relegation to Italy’s Serie B with a 3-1 victory over fellow strugglers Spezia at the Stadio Città del Tricolore on Sunday.

I Gialloblu, who had spent all but six weeks mired in the relegation places and finished the regular season in 18th place with just seven wins from 38 matches, needed to beat 17th-ranked Spezia in the relegation tie-breaker to extend their stay in the country’s top flight for a fifth consecutive campaign. Verona have been something of a yo-yo club in recent years and even dropped into the third tier for three seasons around 15 years ago but this stint marks their longest consecutive stay in Serie A since the eighties.

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Davide Faraoni opened the scoring for the Venetian side before Wales internationalist Ethan Ampadu equalised for Spezia ten minutes later. But a brace from Belgian attacker Cyril Ngonge, who only joined the club in January, ensured victory for Verona and not even a red card for Faraoni could derail their survival bid.

Hellas Verona and Josh Doig, front row centre, celebrate Serie A survivalHellas Verona and Josh Doig, front row centre, celebrate Serie A survival
Hellas Verona and Josh Doig, front row centre, celebrate Serie A survival

Doig was an unused substitute but notched two goals and four assists in 22 games in his maiden Serie A campaign following his £3 million move from the Capital last summer. His performances in a struggling Verona side have caught the eye of numerous teams and the left-back has been linked with a string of clubs. With Hibs having inserted a sell-on clause entitling them to nearly 30 per cent of any future transfer fee, Doig’s future will be closely watched by Easter Road chiefs this summer with Serie B title-winners Genoa tipped to make a move for the 21-year-old.

Elias Melkersen is also due to return to Scotland after his loan stint with Sparta Rotterdam ended with De Kasteelheren losing out to FC Twente in the Eredivise play-offs to determine which team would enter the Europa Conference League qualifying rounds. Joshua Brenet’s strike early in the second half was the only goal of the game, giving the Enschede outfit a 2-1 aggregate victory. The Norwegian forward was an unused substitute for Maurice Steijn’s side and will likely be granted a later return time than his Easter Road team-mates, with the bulk of Lee Johnson’s squad due back for pre-season training on June 22.

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