Hibernian claimed their fourth consecutive Scottish Premiership victory with a comfortable 2-0 victory over 10-man Hamilton Academical this afternoon.
The victory moved Hibernian onto 52 points for the season and maintained the Easter Road men’s four-point advantage over Aberdeen.
Hamilton started today’s encounter impressively however a red card for Jamie Hamilton altered the momentum in Hibs’ favour and goals from Martin Boyle and Josh Doig – his first senior goal – saw all three points remain in Leith.
Jack Ross made one change to the side that defeated Aberdeen at Easter Road two weeks ago with fit again, Joe Newell, replacing former Accies man, Alex Gogic.
The way the fixtures fell recently, aligned with Hibs postponement against Ross County last weekend, meant Hamilton played three matches since their opponents last outing and Brian Rice’s men appeared the sharper of the two teams early on.
Hibernian goalkeeper Ofir Marciano was a busy man in the opening moments as he tipped a Scott McMann angled drive around the far post, held a Scott Martin half-volley, before touching a Marios Ogkmpoe shot onto the post after Paul Hanlon and Doig couldn’t get the ball clear of the Hibs box.
Hamilton continued their impressive start with former Hearts man Ross Callachan’s shot on the turn forcing Marciano into another stop inside the first ten minutes of the match.
Then, in the 12th minute, the visitors were reduced to ten men. Hibernian countered down the right with Boyle nicking the ball past Jamie Hamilton, who unceremoniously wiped out the attacker and was show a straight red card for his challenge.
It would go from bad to worse for Hamilton as Boyle shrugged off the heavy tackle to pick his spot with a terrific finish from 20 yards just 60 seconds later to give his side the lead.
In the moments that followed Hibs pushed hard for a second goal with Newell, Doig and Paul McGinn all having efforts blocked inside the Hamilton box as the visitors bravely put their bodies on the line.
Hamilton’s afternoon was made worse when Ogkmpoe was injured in a challenge with Darren McGregor and had to be replaced by David Moyo.
The Hamilton substitute was quickly involved for the wrong reasons when he brought down Christian Doidge inside the box as the Hibs striker appeared set to score from McGregor’s knockdown. Boyle took the responsibility for the penalty only to be denied by a wonderful save from Ryan Fulton.
On the verge of half-time the home side passed up another excellent opportunity on the counter-attack. With Hamilton throwing bodies forward Hibs countered. Hanlon cleared to Jackson Irvine; his quick thinking released Boyle down the left flank and from his cut back Chris Cadden found himself with a free shot at goal from 12 yards, only to slice his effort wide.
The visitors had an early opportunity after the break to level when Moyo’s knock down was thumped goalward by Bruce Anderson. The on-loan Aberdeen player came into the game on a run of two goals in his last four outings however, he was denied a goal today as Marciano saved smartly.
Hibs were soon back on the attack and Fulton had to be at his best to beat away a fizzing strike from Cadden that stung his hands.
Pressure was growing on the Accies’ goal and Doig tried to take matters into his own hands with a fine run and shot that was in the end deflected wide for a corner kick, from which Fulton produced another excellent save to deny McGregor’s header from point blank range.
A Hibs goal was coming, and it duly arrived in the 70th minute when Boyle weaved his magic on the right, driving into the Hamilton box and picking out Doig with a wonderful cross that the youngster headed home.
Substitute Kevin Nisbet had a couple of opportunities to extend Hibs lead in the closing stages however he was denied on both occasions by Fulton as Hibs comfortably saw out the match.
Hibernian: Marciano, P. McGinn, McGregor, Hanlon, Cadden, Newell (Gogic 83’), Irvine, Doig (Stevenson 83’), Murphy (Nisbet 62’), Boyle, Doidge (Allan 74’). Substitutes not used: Macey, Gray, Porteous, Wright, Hallberg.
Hamilton Academical: Fulton, Odoffin, McMann, Easton, Hamilton, Anderson (Mimnaugh 74’), Martin (Smith 78’), Ogkmpoe (Moyo 22’), Trafford (Hughes 74’), Hodson, Callachan. Substitutes not used: Gourlay, Stirling, Want, Winter, Munro.
Referee: Craig Napier.