The Hibees got their pre-season campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable 2-0 win over Hartlepool United in Portugal.
A first-half strike from Ewan Henderson and a Ryan Porteous header in the second 45 earned Lee Johnson’s side a much-deserved victory in the Algarve.
In his first match in charge since taking over in May, Johnson fielded two separate XI's in each half, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Across the 90 minutes, there were first appearances in green and white for new signings David Marshall, Lewis Miller, Jair Tavares, Kyle McClelland, Nohan Kenneh, Èlie Youan and Aiden McGeady.
Hibs Starting XI: Marshall, Miller, Rocky, McLelland, Stevenson, Kenneh, Doyle-Hayes, Hauge, Henderson, Tavares, Youan
Both sides took their time to get a foothold in the game and adapt to the hot, humid conditions in the Algarve. To accommodate for the heat, the game paused for water and cooling breaks at the half-hour and hour mark.
After just ten minutes, you were beginning to see some of Johnson’s tactics and techniques in action – particularly the intention to press the ball high and win the ball back and turn over possession quickly.
Ewan Henderson looked lively in the opening 45 and was at the heart of everything good for Hibs. After an excellent passage of play that saw some brilliant one-touch football from Runar Hauge, Jake Doyle-Hayes and Lewis Miller down the right-hand side, the ball made its way to Ewan Henderson. Hendo did well to find space for a shot but his effort was straight at the Hartlepool keeper.
It was Henderson who eventually made the breakthrough on 26 minutes. The high press paid off and Jake Doyle Hayes was able to intercept the ball deep inside the Hartlepool half.
His tackle fell perfectly into the path of Henderson, who steadied himself before picking his spot and slotting the ball into the bottom right-hand corner – an excellent finish from the new Hibs no. 18.
Ten minutes later, we nearly doubled our advantage. The quick transition from defence to attack was excellent with the Hibees going from our own goal line to the Hartlepool box in under ten seconds. New striker Èlie Youan played a smart one-two with Ewan Henderson inside his own half before showing Hibees a glimpse of his raw pace and accelerating away from the Hartlepool defender.
Running through on goal Youan had the option to square the ball to Runar who had supported him all the way but the striker opted to go for goal himself, and his effort was well saved by the ‘keeper.
Just before the break Youan and Hauge did combine and nearly made it two. The Frenchman did well to win the ball back on the halfway line before slipping in Runar Hauge, just as Hauge pulled the trigger the Hartlepool defender got back to make a crucial block.
On the stroke of half-time, Jair Tavares had a long-range effort just wide of the mark as the Hibees went in at the break with a 1-0 advantage.
The Hibees came out in the second half with 11 new bodies. However, they continued with the same attacking threat and dominance from the first half.
Hibs (second-half): Dąbrowski, Cadden, Porteous, Brydon, Doig, Newell, Delferrière, Campbell, Melkersen, McGeady, Doidge.
The Hibees completely dominated the second half as Hartlepool clearly began to tire. Paul Hartley’s side began to sit deeper and deeper as the 90 minutes wore on and spent the majority of the second half camped in their own half.
It took just five minutes before we added our second. Melkersen, who was playing in a slightly wider position, showed his pace down the right-hand side and did well to win a corner.
From the resulting set-piece, Joe Newell delivered an inch-perfect in-swinging corner which Ryan Porteous met and nodded home from six yards.
It could’ve been three just before the hour mark. Once again, Joe Newell put in brilliant delivery, this time from the other side. His corner was met by Josh Campbell, who unfortunately couldn’t work the keeper with his header.
Into the final third of the match, Allan Delferrière was the next Hibs player to go close. McGeady showed what he promises to bring to Easter Road with his quick feet and a teasing cross towards Christian Doidge. Hartlepool cleared straight to Delferrière who fired a shot on goal which was equally met by the Hartlepool ‘keeper.
Chris Cadden was heavily involved during the second half, the 2021/22 Player of the Year constantly found himself in space down the right-hand side and delivered several ominous deliveries into the area.
It wasn’t just Doidge who was sniffing around the box looking to capitalise, it was clear the Hibees were committing numbers into the penalty from midfield and intent on imposing Lee Johnson’s attacking style of play.
Around 70 minutes, Porto nearly had his second, this time from a McGeady corner. The defender did well to adjust his body and make a solid connection on the volley but his effort flew just past the post.
Elias Melkersen did have the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside. Jack Brydon’s header looked goal bound but it hit Christian Doidge who was in an offside position before Melkersen tapped in from close range.
With five minutes from time, Cadden and Melkersen combined down the right-hand side to create a great chance for the Norwegian. Cadds pulled the ball back into the path of Melkersen who drilled his effort just wide of the far post.
The was the last chance of the 90 minutes with the refereeing calling a halt to proceedings in the Portugal sun.
As the referee blew the full-time whistle, Johnson and the players went over to applaud the hundred or so Hibs fans who made the journey out to support their team. The travelling Hibees will have been pleased with their first glimpse of this new-look Hibs squad.
Up next, the Hibees take on Burton Albion in Portugal at 11am on Friday 1 July. Supporters can watch this match for free on our YouTube channel.