Ryan Porteous: How important Hibs defender is to results, attack, and defence for Easter Road side

Saturday’s victory for Hibs over St Mirren was significant for a number of reasons.

Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 7:00 am

It was the Easter Road side’s first league win since February 19; their first top-flight victory on the road since Boxing Day; their third away win of the season with a different manager, and a winning start to interim boss David Gray’s temporary spell in charge.

It was also the first league game this season that Hibs have won without Ryan Porteous, and just their second clean sheet without the 23-year-old in the backline.

The centre-back was in the stands at the SMiSA Stadium, watching on as he served his third of a four-game Scottish Premiership suspension.

Hibs have conceded 11 goals in the eight league games Porteous has missed through suspension. Add in the goals conceded during the games in which he started but was sent off, and that number rises to 15 in ten games.

That's 40.5 per cent of Hibs' total goals conceded in the Scottish Premiership without Porteous on the pitch.

Effect on attack and defence

Hibs’ problems in the final third have been well documented, but Porteous also ranks fourth in terms of shots on goal. Only Kevin Nisbet (injured), Martin Boyle (departed), and Harry Clarke (benefiting from his Ross County stats) are ahead of him for Hibs, and he is tied with Chris Cadden.

Hibs' victory over St Mirren was their first league win in 2021/22 without Ryan Porteous in the team

His aerial prowess makes him a threat at set-pieces and he isn’t beyond carrying the ball out of defence and deep into the opposition half; something else Hibs have missed during his absence.

His two league goals, one header and one shot both from corners, puts him level with Cadden, Christian Doidge, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Kyle Magennis, and Jamie Murphy.

Hibs might have only conceded 37 goals – only Celtic, Rangers, and Hearts have better goals-against columns – but there is a distinct possibility the difference in both columns would be better had Porteous played more often.

In Scottish Premiership matches started by Porteous, Hibs have conceded an average of a goal per game. In games the defender has sat out through suspension, the average is up to 1.4 goals per game.

Eight of their ten league wins this season have come with Porteous on the park.

What changed at St Mirren?

The Buddies are on a poor run of form themselves and as Stephen Robinson said after the game, are struggling with injuries. Sound familiar?

But Hibs also had an experienced backline with Paul Hanlon in the middle and Paul McGinn and Lewis Stevenson on either side. McGinn cleared an effort off the line in the first half and it was his ball forward to Clarke that started the move leading to the goal.

Having an experienced defence might have helped, so too the ‘new manager bounce’, although Gray has been on the coaching staff since last summer.

Hibs have had plenty of problems this season – injuries, misfortune, two changes of manager, and a fair few suspensions – which can’t all be attributed to Porteous spending more time on the sidelines than he and the club would like.

But we’ve seen how the Easter Road side has struggled since the sale of Boyle in January and given the centre-back’s high rate of interceptions, tackles won, successful passing, and all-round contribution in matches, his importance to Hibs cannot be understated.