Hibees win festive cracker at Tannadice.
Hibernian brought the curtain down on 2021 with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Dundee United in the cinch Premiership this afternoon.
The victory maintains Shaun Maloney’s winning start to his managerial career, as we head into the winter break off back of three consecutive league wins.
We dominated the match and deservedly took all three points back to Edinburgh thanks to Kevin Nisbet’s seventh goal of the campaign, Chris Cadden’s first for the club and Jamie Murphy’s late finish.
Declan Glass scored a sensational individual effort to give the home side some consolation on an afternoon when United were second best all over the park.
Maloney made two changes to the side that defeated Aberdeen 1-0 in midweek. Drey Wright started his first league game of the season, whilst Lewis Stevenson replaced the injured Paul McGinn in defence.
Dundee United suffered a blow before the game when Ryan Edwards was unable to start due to a private matter and was replaced by Lewis Neilson in the starting XI. Miller Thompson taking his place on the bench.
We started the match in a 3-4-1-2 formation with Stevenson, Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon lining up in defence; Cadden and Josh Doig on the flanks complimented Jake Doyle-Hayes and Josh Campbell in the middle, whilst Wright was given a roaming role in behind Martin Boyle and Nisbet in attack.
Melker Hallberg was a welcome addition amongst the substitutes on the bench as the Swede continued to comeback from injury.
We started the match playing into the driving rain and the wet conditions appeared to suit us better as we moved the ball about with purpose.
Our first opportunity came on two minutes when Wright dragged a shot just wide from 22 yards and moments later it took a terrific Charlie Mulgrew interception to prevent Boyle from getting onto the end of a Doyle-Hayes through ball as we opened the hosts up.
Mulgrew was at his best in the opening stages, and he he slid in to prevent Boyle from tapping in a low Doig cross at the near post.
We were enjoying lots of possession and it was clear that under Maloney, we will look to play through the thirds whilst looking to stretch the game with Cadden and Doig on the touchlines.
The pockets our movement created allowed Wright to pick up the ball in useful positions and he was impressive throughout the day.
We deservedly went ahead on 38 minutes when Cadden’s shot was blocked by Neilson, it rebounded to Boyle and his strike fell kindly for Nisbet to slot away from close range despite the efforts of Mulgrew on the line.
The Dundee United players appealed for offside and after Willie Collum consulted with his assistant, the pair agreed that the goal was a fair one.
We continued to dominate with Cadden going close with a hooked effort that was deflected just wide of goal. Boyle then picked out Wright with a wonderful cross but the Englishman failed to connect cleanly and Benjamin Siegrist gathered.
On the cusp of half-time Siegrist was called into action again - this time to save from a powerful strike from Boyle.
That proved to be the final effort of note in a first half that we were dominant - enjoying a 72% share of possession.
After the break United attempted to press us higher up the park to stop us playing through the thirds and it worked in the opening moments as they enjoyed their best spell of the game.
They won a free kick on the edge of the box following a foul by Hanlon and from the set piece Nicky Clark struck a clever shot under the jumping wall and Matt Macey was called into action for the first time to save at his near post.
Our response was to put Murphy on for Wright and look to exploit gaps in behind. We were soon on the attack once again with Nisbet shooting over from the edge of the box before Boyle forced Siegrist into a save from similar range.
With 20 minutes remaining Adrian Sporle’s rasping shot was pushed round the post by Macey before substitute Logan Chalmers made an almost immediate impact with a strike from the edge of the area that he pull just wide.
United had to play the final quarter-of-an-hour with ten men after talisman Mulgrew went off injured after the hosts had used all three substitutes.
We made the most of our extra man by scoring a second goal on 78 minutes when Doyle-Hayes found Boyle running in behind. The Australian international unselfishly cut the ball back to Cadden who controlled his finish to score his first goal for the club.
We perhaps should have finished United off with ten minutes remaining when Porteous’s wonderful diagonal ball released Nisbet who unselfishly attempted to find Murphy, only for Siegrist to gather.
Thomas Courts’ side kept going to their credit and went close to reducing arrears with a Chalmers shot that was deflected over the crossbar and from the corner kick, Ian Harkes headed off target.
In the 89th minute they did pull a goal back through a wonderful individual effort from Glass, who evaded four challenges before firing into the top corner leaving Matt Macey no chance.
The goal gave the home side renewed belief going into three minutes added time; however, the afternoon and the points would belong to us with Murphy wrapping up the win with a third goal at the death with a fine low finish to end the game and 2021 on a high.
Dundee United: Siegrist, Sporle, Mulgrew, Clark, Neilson, Freeman (Niskanen 46’), Harkes, Mochrie (Glass 62’), Watson (Chalmers 71’), Meekison, McMann. Substitutes not used: Newman, Hoti, Thompson, Smith.
Hibernian: Macey, Doig (McGregor 72’), Hanlon, Porteous, Wright (Murphy 61’), Boyle, Nisbet (Doidge 82’), Stevenson, Doyle-Hayes, Cadden, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Hallberg, Allan, Scott.
Referee: Willie Collum.