'That's why we wanted him fresh' - Hibs boss vindicated by star man's impact
Key international proves game winner for Monty
Hibs boss Nick Montgomery hailed Martin Boyle for making the difference in a tight victory over Kilmarnock – and said the Socceroos star’s performance justified his decision to leave him on the bench in midweek.
Boyle, who had picked up a knee injury in last weekend’s Viaplay Cup semi-final loss to Aberdeen at Hampden, was an unused sub in Wednesday night’s disappointing 2-2 draw against St Mirren in Paisley.
Restored to the starting XI at Easter Road today, he provided the assist for Josh Campbell’s second goal in as many games, as Hibs ended a seven-game winless streak by seeing off Killie.
Monty said his talismanic attacker had proven his value again, saying: “Martin is a special player - and we have to protect him.
“Coming off in the semi-final, he took a little knock, and we didn’t risk him at St Mirren.
“We can’t take risks on a player of Martin’s stature at the club - and it was the right decision to leave him on the bench at St MIrren. It freshened him up.
“I could’ve played him at St Mirren, but it was possibly a bit too soon after the semi-final.
“We decided not to take that risk, and today we got our just rewards because we had a fresh Martin Boyle - and he looked dangerous every time he got on the attack. He was unfortunate not to score himself.
“He has had a disallowed goal, possible penalty call and a couple at the end where he just lost his footing.
“Martin is a big player for us and it’s important that we don’t take risks when it’s not necessary.”
Boyle is due to fly out to Melbourne on international duty this morning, Montgomery – who had raised the possibility of asking the Aussies to go easy on his most valuable player – saying: “I’m not the doctor but I will go down and have that conversation.
“If he’s fit, no problem, he’ll be raring to go with the Socceroos. If not, he’ll probably stay.
“Getting through 90 minutes probably tells you he’ll be desperate to go, and he’s a big player for them as well.
“If it was up to me, he’d stay - and we’d rest him! But they’ve got good medical staff there, so hopefully it’s two weeks of him recovering for a few days and getting some minutes.”
Pleased to finally see his team hold on to a winning position after a brutal run of dropped points, Montgomery said: “It was a professional performance.
“Coming off the back of Wednesday night and conceding an injury-time equaliser, it was important to get a win.
“Clean sheet, three points and we could have made it easier. We could have killed it off earlier.
“But we limited them to one shot on target and they are a very physical and direct side.
“We have had unfortunate incidents not going our way - but it was important to get three points going into the international break. And also, we didn’t get any new injuries, which is good.”
Killie boss Derek McInnes identified one key factor in the result, saying: “Martin Boyle is the one who makes the difference – and his part in the game was pretty decisive.”