They've done it! How Hibs secured third place with win at Aberdeen
It all came down to the last day of the season and goal difference when Hibs last forced their way into the top three of the Premiership.
That was in the 2004/05 campaign, when Tony Blair was still Prime Minister, Jose Mourinho was still Chelsea’s Special One, and the biggest health threat was bird flu.
After a long, strange, and testing season in more ways than one, there was a possibility that things could again go down to the wire as Hibs looked to reassert themselves in the higher echelons of the Scottish football league.
But the class of 2020/21 decided not to put off what could be confirmed now and wrapped things up a game sooner, giving themselves more time to prepare for the upcoming Scottish Cup final.
In a season where they have pushed many boundaries, they created a piece of club history in the process.
No Hibs team has ever logged 11 away wins in a season. Until now.
Sitting on ten since they defeated Ross County mid-March, this match at Aberdeen was their last opportunity.
The Dons did not make it easy for them, though. In recent weeks they have clawed back the deficit, and started this one just three points behind.
But if the feeling of the Dons’ breath on the back of their necks worried the Edinburgh side, they channelled that anxiety in positive fashion.
Stephen Glass’ team applied pressure throughout the match, but the Hibs repelled Aberdeen’s early advances, nabbed a goal shortly before the interval and then defended a second-half onslaught. Getting in bocks, anticipating runs and rising to clear dangerous balls and searching set pieces into the area, they were resolute and clinched a 1-0 win.
Aberdeen had made one change to their team, with Ryan Hedges coming in for Niall McGinn.
Hibs made a couple. Joe Newell and Ryan Porteous were left on the bench, after picking up knocks at Hampden. They were replaced by Alex Gogic, back from suspension, and the experienced Darren McGregor.
There was an unexpected start for cup goalie Matt Macey, with Ofir Marciano missing out entirely. But, Euros hopeful Kevin Nisbet did recover sufficiently to start up front.
It was his strike partner Christian Doidge who made the telling goal contribution, though.
Aberdeen poked and probed, throwing everything they had at the impenetrable back line of Paul McGinn, McGregor, Paul Hanlon, young Josh Doig and his second-half replacement Lewis Stevenson.
At the other end, Doidge made his 40th-minute opportunity count. Aberdeen tried to clear, but couldn’t prevent the ball being played inside to the Welshman on edge of the box and he stroked a low shot beyond Gary Woods to give the away side the lead. It was a massive moment and how Aberdeen would have loved even a fraction of that clinical edge.
Instead, Hibs held on to secure third. They had refused to celebrate safeguarding fourth and the guarantee of European football but there were no such reservations when it came to acknowledging third.
It was the first of their pre-season targets to be secured and they enjoyed every minute.