By: Hibernian Media on 05 Aug, 2018 17:40
Hibernian opened their Ladbrokes Premiership campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Motherwell at Easter Road Stadium on Sunday afternoon, writes Richard Payne.
The Edinburgh side were in command throughout and led 2-0 at the interval thanks to efforts from Stevie Mallan and Oli Shaw.
Martin Boyle added a third before the hosts tired towards the end – possibly due to their midweek heroics – and Motherwell’s Danny Johnson created a flurry of strikes on the Hibernian goal, including striking the post late on.
Having only arrived back from Greece on Friday afternoon Head Coach Neil Lennon opted to freshen his side up with Ryan Porteous, Marvin Bartley and Shaw all given starting berths.
Flo Kamberi and Vykintas Slivka dropped to the bench whilst Darren McGregor was rested. That meant there was no starting slot for new signing Jamie Maclaren who had to settle for a place amongst the substitutes.
The home side made a positive start to the encounter with several telling crosses into the Motherwell box, although none put goalkeeper Trevor Carson under any undue pressure.
It took until the 16th minute before Hibernian carved out the game’s first opportunity as Paul Hanlon let fly with a power strike from 20-yards out that flashed wide of Carson’s near post.
Motherwell’s first effort came just moments later with Chris Cadden shooting wide after being picked out on the edge of the box by Andy Rose.
Hibernian were enjoying good spells of possession in the visitors’ half without finding their way through the Steelmen’s rearguard.
Then, on 29 minutes, the home side were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Well penalty box after Peter Hartley blocked a Mallan shot with his arm.
That earned the Motherwell skipper a yellow card and handed dead-ball specialist Mallan an opportunity that he grasped with both hands as he curled an exquisite finish low around the wall into the bottom right corner of Carson’s goal.
Hibernian doubled their lead just before half-time when Boyle countered at pace before John McGinn dinked a terrific ball through to Shaw who controlled on his chest and drilled it under Carson to score.
Despite being a virtual spectator for the first half Adam Bogdan was called into action in the final seconds when Bartley carelessly gave away possession allowing Cadden a strike at goal that the goalkeeper did well to beat away low to his right.
Motherwell made a double change during the interval, however it did little to alter their on-field fortunes as Hibernian continued to press for more goals.
In the opening moments after the restart David Gray went agonisingly close to getting on the end of Hanlon’s cross before Boyle’s shot from distance had Carson scrambling across goal.
A third goal for the hosts was coming and it duly arrived in the 50th minute when Boyle finished off a terrific team move with a clinical finish after Shaw’s pass.
Hibernian introduced Maclaren for the final half-hour and he was given a hero’s welcome by the 17,500 packed into Easter Road Stadium this afternoon.
Motherwell were desperately unlucky not to pull a goal back when substitute Danny Johnson raced clean through on goal, rounded Bogdan only for his shot on the angle to strike the far post. Johnson was quickly onto the rebound only for Hanlon to block the striker’s effort brilliantly.
Johnson had added a new dimension to Motherwell’s attack and had given Hibernian more problems than Curtis Main and Connor Salmon had combined.
Johnson was again involved on 76 minutes when he held off several Hibs defenders before his shot on the turn finished just wide of goal.
Despite trailing by three goals Motherwell were now enjoying their best period of pressure in the match.
That said, they were almost punished by a quick Hibernian counter-attack as Bogdan released Lewis Stevenson on the left; he found Shaw who in turn fed Maclaren. The Aussie striker released a quick-fire snap-shot that Carson saved well at his near post to deny Maclaren a goal on his return.
Johnson had another opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet when he was played clean through on goal with nine minutes remaining only to be denied by a fine save from Bogdan.
A perfect start to the Ladbrokes Premiership campaign for Lennon’s men who had little time to prepare for this afternoon’s encounter after their midweek heroics.
Hibernian: Bogdan, Gray (Slivka 63’), Hanlon, Bartley, McGinn (Swanson 79’), Boyle, Mallan (Maclaren 63’), Stevenson, Ambrose, Shaw, Porteous. Substitutes not used: Laidlaw, Kamberi, Martin, Mackie.
Motherwell: Carson, Tait, Taylor-Sinclair (Frear 46’), McHugh, Hartley, Cadden, Main (Johnson 62’), Grimshaw (Bigirimana 46’), Rose, Sammon, Donnelly. Substitutes not used: Gillespie, Rodriguez, Turnbull, Scott.
Referee: Bobby Madden.
Image: Alan Rennie.