This is a mean defence
Hibs have now kept six clean sheets in the league this season. That’s an average of one in every two matches. It’s the sort of form that wins you titles, let alone earns European places. Goalkeeper Ofir Marciano looked unflappable again, while the central defensive partnership of Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon continue to go from strength to strength. If one makes a rare error, the other mops up behind. Full-backs Paul McGinn, Lewis Stevenson and Josh Doig continue to impress. Manager Jack Ross and his assistant John Potter have manufactured a defensive unit that is the envy of many
Mallan on the left?
Stevie Mallan was handed a surprise start on the left-hand side of midfield. In a 4-4-2, he got away with playing narrow, but this position does not play to his strengths. True, he can cut inside and get on to his favoured and dangerous right foot, but the position just doesn’t seem natural to him. Given his shooting prowess, attacking instincts and dead-ball ability, one can understand why Ross is so keen to get him in the team, but his best work is done centrally. He played better in the second period and ought to have scored. If Jamie Murphy is fit for the semi-final against Hearts, he is likely to start ahead of Mallan.
Plastic is not fantastic
The pitch at Rugby Park is a minefield. Kilmarnock’s former Hearts defender Clevid Dikamona suffered a serious foot injury when falling innocuously under little pressure from Christian Doidge, while Hibs left-back Stevenson turned his ankle on the surface and is now classed as a doubt for next weekend. While the financial benefits of having an artificial surface are obvious, they are not for the football purist. The ball does not roll naturally on it, and the stickiness of it can lead to injuries. Many want these pitches banned a top-flight level and yesterday just added more fuel to that particular fire.