Three things we learned from Hibs 1 - 1 Livingston

Analysis as Hibs fought back to secure a point against a resolute Livingston outfit.

Saturday, 22nd December 2018, 6:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 22nd December 2018, 6:11 pm
Lewis Allan made a rare start for Hibs against Livingston as boss Neil Lennon made six changes. Pic: SNS

Team rotation no surprise but too many?

Neil Lennon’s starting line up was likely to be a big talking point for supporters prior to kick-off.

Back-to-back fixtures against the Old Firm and the visit of an industrious Livingston side, squeezed into just six days, appears to have forced the manager’s hand. The Northern Irishman made six changes from Wednesday night’s goalless stalemate against Rangers and it showed in what was a disjointed first-half performance. Youngsters Lewis Allan and Sean Mackie were among the individuals blooded into the team, the latter making his first start for the club.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lennon admitted in his post-match interview that he was always likely to rotate the squad given the exertions of the past week however, did he underestimate Livi just a tad by making too many personnel changes? Taking into account there is the small matter of a trip to Ibrox and the visit of Hearts next week, the manager is expected to call upon his more experienced players in the coming days. The rest should do them the world of good.

Martin Boyle will be a big miss

Although everyone at the club is delighted for Martin Boyle who will represent Australia at next month's Asia Cup, his impending absence must be a real concern for Neil Lennon. The winger, along with Mark Milligan and Jamie Maclaren, will jet off to sunnier climes in preparation for the tournament which gets underway in the United Arab Emirates on January 5.

The trio are expected to leave the day after Hibs' visit to Ibrox on Boxing Day, and should the Socceroos progress to the latter stages of the tournament, they could miss a Scottish Cup tie against Elgin City as well as Premiership fixtures against Motherwell, St Mirren and Aberdeen. Boyle made his first start against Livingston following the concussion he sustained against Hamilton a fortnight ago.

His drive and willingness to take defenders on is such a rare commodity these days but Boyle has speed to burn. He was unlucky not to score himself and always looked Hibs' biggest threat.

David Gray back in the squad

Although he didn't feature against Livingston, the sight of David Gray making his way to warm up behind the Famous Five stand was greeted with rapturous applause by all inside Easter Road.

The defender has been plagued by a knee problem that has kept him on the sidelines since the 6-0 thrashing of Hamilton in October. His much-anticipated comeback at Kilmarnock at the beginning of the month suffered a setback.

However, he was stripped this time around and ready to play if called upon. And, given Hibs haven't lost when he's been included in the starting XI this season, the influence of their captain might just be what Hibs need ahead of two mouthwatering fixtures against Rangers and Capital rivals Hearts.