Talking points as Hibs survive Raith scare to advance in Viaplay Cup

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Hibs survived a scare against Championship side Raith Rovers to book their place in the last eight of the Viaplay Cup.

Lewis Vaughan thundered an effort off the upright moments before Élie Youan headed in Joe Newell’s corner for the opener. Callum Smith levelled for Ian Murray’s side, who looked the better team for portions of the match, but substitute Dylan Vente responded just seconds after coming off the bench to restore the hosts’ lead and that turned out to be enough, with Liam Dick seeing red in injury time for catching Vente with a high boot.

Rotation works out

Lee Johnson said in the aftermath of the 2-2 draw with Luzern that the first leg of the Europa Conference League play-off tie with Aston Villa being brought forward 24 hours would affect his preparations for this game. He still made six changes, one enforced with Dylan Levitt still on crutches and in a moon boot, with starts for Riley Harbottle, Kanayo Megwa and Jordan Obita in a new-look back four, while Jimmy Jeggo came into the midfield and Christian Doidge and Adam Le Fondre started up top.

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Élie Youan celebrates scoring the opener in Hibs' 2-1 Viaplay Cup victory over Raith Rovers. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS GroupÉlie Youan celebrates scoring the opener in Hibs' 2-1 Viaplay Cup victory over Raith Rovers. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS Group
Élie Youan celebrates scoring the opener in Hibs' 2-1 Viaplay Cup victory over Raith Rovers. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS Group

Making changes didn’t help Hibs at Motherwell last weekend but the six players who came into the team performed well. Megwa put in a strong showing on his first competitive senior start, earning a standing ovation when he made way for Lewis Miller; Obita was a threat in attack and tidy in defence, and Harbottle grew into the game as well.

Vente relief?

Dylan Vente scored on his Hibs debut, netting in the 3-1 victory over Luzern as well as providing the assist for Joe Newell’s opener. But a largely ineffectual 45 minutes against Motherwell was followed up by an hour in in the return leg against Luzern without any goal contributions. However, the Dutchman took just seconds after replacing Le Fondre in the aftermath of Raith’s equaliser to grab his second goal for Hibs, tucking home from close range after Youan’s cutback. With strikers thriving on confidence, getting his second goal for the club in just his fourth appearance could be a huge boost for player and team ahead of the visit of Aston Villa in midweek – provided the injury he sustained late on that led to Dick’s red card doesn’t rule him out of action.

Lingering concerns?

There were a number of moments throughout the game where an error by a Hibs player went unpunished – but almost certainly wouldn’t have been against higher calibre opposition. Such as Aston Villa, for example, who won 4-0 against Everton on league duty at the same time Hibs were taking on Raith. The main thing in cup games is getting through to the next round, even if it isn’t pretty – and maybe Hibs needed a scrappy win for confidence. But there were a few dicey incidents that might have had Johnson tearing his hair out ahead of such an important game. Premier League players will almost certainly capitalise on any sloppiness from the Capital club.

It could be low energy levels after the travel to Switzerland, or lapses in concentration or just a bobble on the pitch. But at the same time, it’s probably no bad thing that the mistakes came in this game rather than later this week.

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