By: Hibernian Media on 13 Feb, 2020 00:37
Hibernian comfortably defeated Ross County 3-0 at Easter Road Stadium on a bitterly cold night in the capital.
Marc McNulty picked up where he left off on Sunday against BSC Glasgow by notching an early breakthrough before Christian Doidge grabbed his 16th goal of the campaign with a header before the break.
McNulty had another effort chalked off for offside and missed a second-half penalty on an eventful evening for the striker.
Defender Adam Jackson made sure of victory in the closing stages with a near-post header.
Jack Ross opted to freshen up his side with Lewis Stevenson, Steven Whittaker, Stephane Omeonga and Daryl Horgan dropping out from the side.
Jackson, Scott Allan, Joe Newell and Vykintas Slivka all returned to the starting XI, whilst Melker Hallberg missed out completely through illness.
Hibernian started positively and should have opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Greg Docherty’s low cross into the box found Martin Boyle unmarked at the back post, only for the winger to hook it over the bar from point-blank range.
Sixty seconds later Doidge slid in ahead of former Hibee Keith Watson to turn an Allan pass towards goal and force Nathan Baxter into his first save of the evening at his near post.
Hibs attacking intent was rewarded with an early breakthrough when Allan’s quick thinking released McNulty, who nipped in ahead of Baxter to prod the ball home from 18 yards.
McNulty had the ball in the net again moments later when he converted a Boyle cross, however he had strayed offside and the goal didn’t count.
It had been a tough opening quarter-of-an-hour for the visitors, however they should have levelled when Billy McKay’s dink over the top of the Hibs defence played in Iain Vigurs and he was denied by Ofir Marciano at his near post.
The Ross County player had opted to go for power when placement would have yielded better results.
At the other end Hibs burst forward with Doidge having an initial effort blocked by Watson before following it up and forcing a save from Baxter.
County had another good opportunity to level when a ball over the top caught out the Hibs defence and allowed Vigurs in behind. He squared it to McKay who blasted wide of goal.
Five minutes before the interval and Hibernian doubled their lead as Doidge took advantage of slack defending to head home from a Joe Newell corner kick.
Despite Ross County acquitting themselves well it was the clinical hosts that took a two-goal lead into the interval.
After the break the home side continued to carve out the best of the opportunities with Boyle driving at the Country backline before fizzing a shot just over the crossbar from 25 yards.
On the hour Boyle was involved again, this time cutting the ball back to Allan who dragged his shot wide of goal.
Ross County shuffled their pack - bringing on all three substitutes - and the changes allowed them to gain a foothold in the middle of the park for a short period.
Hibs response was to inject fresh legs into proceedings with Fraser Murray and Omeonga introduced – the former almost making an immediate impact with a dipping free-kick that brushed the roof of the net.
County substitute Oli Shaw had the visitors’ only real opportunity of the second half when he raced onto a through ball only for Marciano to save bravely at his feet.
Two minutes later and a handball from Marcus Fraser gifted Hibernian a penalty kick - Baxter guessed correctly and saved McNulty’s effort low to his left.
From the resultant corner kick the home side made sure of victory when Jackson headed in Newell’s delivery inside a packed penalty box.
Hibernian: Marciano, Hanlon, McGinn, Slivka (Omeonga 76), Doidge, Boyle, Newell, McNulty (Gullan 86), Docherty, Jackson, Allan (Murray 72). Unused substitutes: Bogdan, Horgan, James, McGregor.
Ross County: Baxter, Fraser, Kelly, Fontaine, Draper (Cowie 58), Erwin (Shaw 67), McKay, Vigurs, Watson, Paton (Mullin 67), Donaldson. Unused substitutes: Laidlaw, Mullin, Foster, Shaw, Spittal, Tillson.
Referee: Steven McLean.
Image: Alan Rennie.
Report: Richard Payne.