By: Hibernian Media on 30 Oct, 2019 23:25
Australian international Martin Boyle snatched a dramatic, last gasp equaliser in his comeback match as Hibernian and Livingston shared four goals at Easter Road Stadium on Wednesday evening, writes Richard Payne.
The home side created a host of opportunities during the first period however defensive frailties were once again cruelly exposed as the hosts undeservedly trailed 2-0 at the interval thanks to strikes from Steven Lawless and Craig Sibbald.
Scott Allan reduced arrears with a penalty kick early in the second half, having earlier had a goal chalked off, and Boyle made sure of a sixth successive draw for Hibernian with his dramatic late leveler.
Paul Heckingbottom made four changes to the side that drew with Ross County at the week with Daryl Horgan, Tom James, Glenn Middleton and Christian Doidge all restored to the starting XI.
Boyle continued his rehabilitation and was involved on a matchday for the first time since July as he was named amongst the substitutes.
The visitors started brightly and almost snatched the lead in the first minute only for James to hook the ball off the goal line after Scott Pittman’s shot had the beating of Chris Maxwell.
Hibernian were soon on the attack with Middleton’s cross on the left looking for Horgan however Alan Lithgow read the danger to hook clear just in front of goal.
The early play was raging from end-to-end and from a Livingston corner in the ninth minute a half-volley from Hakeem Odoffin flashed just wide of the Maxwell’s far post.
Neither side were able to assert any dominance in the opening exchanges and soon it was the hosts on the attack with Doidge cushioning Lewis Stevenson’s cross into the path of Middleton who drew a save from Matjia Sarkic at his near post.
Hibernian began to put the visitors under pressure and create a series of opportunities.
Paul Hanlon had a shot from distance before a clever dummy from Allan allowed him to evade the clutches of Jack McMillan and angle an effort towards the back post that Sarkic beat away at full stretch.
Two minutes later Hibernian went even closer to finding a breakthrough with Horgan diverting Middleton’s low cross beyond Sarkic only for Lithgow to clear off the line.
Livingston then had Sarkic to thank after the goalkeeper pulled off a stunning save to deny James’ rocket that looked a certain goal all the way before the diving stopper tipped it over the crossbar at full stretch.
From the resultant corner kick James had another effort which struck Odoffin just in front of goal. The Hibs support and players claimed for a penalty kick, however referee Gavin Duncan waved away their appeals.
Having weathered the storm Livingston stunned Easter Road by taking the lead just eight minutes before the break when Lawless’ strike took a horrible deflection off Hanlon to wrong-foot Maxwell and find the net.
Three minutes later and it got worse as Sibbald robbed Stevie Mallan of possession inside the home penalty box before curling an effort away from Maxwell and into the back of the net.
Hibernian’s response was to introduce Florian Kamberi at the interval and Heckingbottom’s side were quickly on the attack with the Swiss laying off to Allan who was denied by Sarkic at his near post.
The home side had the ball in Livingston’s net in the 56th minute as Allan slotted away from Doidge’s knock down, however the Welsh striker had strayed offside in the build up and Hibernian’s celebrations were cut short.
Hibernian were handed a lifeline in the 61st minute when Odoffin pulled down Allan inside the box and the midfielder dispatched the resultant penalty kick with aplomb to claim his sixth goal of the season.
Hibs continued to push forward with Doidge close to converting Horgan’s cross before Hanlon headed over from close range soon after.
With 15 minutes remaining Livingston should have put the game beyond their opponents when Mallan was short with a pass back allowing substitute Scott Tiffoney through on goal; the Livi man took the ball round Maxwell only to shot wide when face with an open goal.
Having survived that scare Hibernian quickly returned to putting the visitors under intense pressure with James and Ryan Porteous both going close.
With 11 minutes remaining Boyle was brought on in place of Melker Hallberg as Hibernian threw caution to the wind and it would pay off.
Before then however Horgan missed a great opportunity to score when he was picked out by Hanlon but shot straight at Sarkic with the goal at his mercy.
Sarkic appeared to have ensured the victory for the visitors with a brave save at the feet of Kamberi however in stoppage time super sub Boyle struck a deserved equaliser for Hibernian.
Hibernian: Maxwell, Hanlon, Horgan, Doidge, Mallan, Stevenson, James, Middleton (Kamberi 46’), Hallberg (Boyle 79’), Allan, Porteous. Unused Substitutes: Marciano, Vela, Newell, Jackson, Naismith.
Livingston: Sarkic, Lithgow, Bartley, Pittman, Sibbald (Lamie 57’), Lawless (Jacobs 75’), Odoffin, Crawford, Robinson (Tiffoney 65’), McMillan, Guthrie. Unused Substitutes: Stewart, Stobbs, Lawson.
Referee: Gavin Duncan.