Fantastic win Hibs,well done all,hard place to go and get the points 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬🇳🇬😄😄— ian@Sunshine on Leith (@iannic70) October 24, 2020
Kevin Nisbet’s eighth goal of the campaign was enough to earn Hibernian a hard fought 1-0 victory over Kilmarnock this afternoon.
In a game of few clear-cut chances Hibs more than merited all three points after creating the game’s best opportunities and producing a strong resolute performance at the back.
The win takes the team back into third place in the Scottish Premiership and moves them to within one point of Celtic.
Hibs, led by skipper Paul Hanlon, looked resplendent in their new yellow third kit. The HSL backed shirt certainly caught the eye on a drab day in Ayrshire.
The Easter Road men have made a habit this season of starting brightly and they did so again this afternoon.
They created the game’s first effort at goal after only two minutes when Joe Newell pounced on a poor headed clearance before cushioning the ball on his chest and firing a 25 yards half-volley towards goal that brushed the side netting.
At the other end, a fine hanging free kick into the back post from Chris Burke almost found the heads of Nicke Kabamba and Zeno Rossi, however it was just out of the reach of both.
Hibs were awarded a penalty kick in the 26th minute when a long ball into the Killie danger area was allowed to bounce by Clevid Dikamona; the former Hearts player was unaware that Christian Doidge was lurking just behind him and when the striker nipped in to take the ball off the defender’s toes he was taken down.
Referee Colin Steven had no option other than to award a spot kick and Nisbet stepped forward to send Danny Rogers the wrong way and claim his eighth goal of the campaign.
Hibs had a couple of opportunities to extend their advantage in the moments that followed the opening goal with Kirk Broadfoot just doing enough to prevent Nisbet from grabbing a quick fire double before a Nisbet cross only just evaded Doidge as Hibs countered on their hosts.
On 34 minutes Kilmarnock defender Dikamona landed awkwardly following an aerial challenge with Doidge and appeared to pick up a serious looking injury. The centre back required lengthy treatment before being replaced by Stuart Findlay.
The Kilmarnock substitute was quickly involved when he flicked on a Burke corner to Greg Kiltie and only a goal-line clear from Nisbet kept Hibs ahead.
In the final action of note in the first half Rogers was fortunate not to concede when he allowed Nisbet to close him down following a pass back. The Killie keeper’s fresh air clearance fortuitously worked in his favour as it wrong-foot Nisbet, who would have been left with a tap-in had he made contact.
Lewis Stevenson picked up an ankle knock during the first half and was unable to shake it off. He was replaced by Josh Doig during the interval.
The substitution did little to change the pattern of play as Hibs once again opened brightly. In the early moments of the second period Doidge saw an effort blocked bravely by Findlay on the edge of the Killie box before a clever shot and turn from Nisbet was also deflected wide.
The Hibs defence - not for the first time this season - looked resolute. Kilmarnock tried to push for a leveller but found their way to goal time and again blocked by a yellow shirt.
The best the home side could manage was a Burke delivery that Ofir Marciano beat away and a header off target from Kabamba.
In contrast, Hibs looked threatening every time they went forward. Doidge was proving to be handful for the home defence and when Paul McGinn picked him out on 62 minutes, he appeared certain to score. The Welsh striker did everything right only for his downward header to deflect off Broadfoot for a corner kick.
Moments later McGinn had a great chance to increase Hibs lead when Stevie Mallan’s diagonal pass found him arriving late and unmarked in the penalty box. The full back - perhaps unaware of how much time and space he had - snatched at his shot and dragged his effort on the angle wide of the far post.
The opportunities kept coming for Hibs and Mallan should have made more of his chance when he drove forward and had Nisbet to his left and Martin Boyle on the right in space, only to go it alone and shoot wide from 18 yards.
With six minutes remaining a stunning run from Newell almost delivered the second goal Hibs performance merited. The midfielder dropped his shoulder before beating two defenders and arching a terrific shot towards the far corner of the net that brought up an equally impressive save from Rogers.
In the final minute, a lovely, clipped cross from Newell found the run of Melker Hallberg and although the substitute did well to guide his header over Rogers it dropped just over the crossbar.
In the end Hibs comfortably saw out the match to claim full points. Next up for the Easter Road men is the eagerly awaited William Hill Scottish Cup semi-final with Edinburgh rivals Heart of Midlothian at Hampden on Saturday evening.
Kilmarnock: Rogers, Rossi, Broadfoot, Dikamona (Findlay 39’), Waters, Tshibola (Mulumbu 82’), Dicker (Brophy 67’), Power, Burke, Kabamba, Kiltie (Pinnock 67’). Unused substitutes: Haunstrup, McKenzie, Whitehall, Doyle, Brindley.
Hibernian: Marciano, P. McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Stevenson (Doig 46’), Boyle, Gogic, Newell, Mallan (Hallberg 87’), Nisbet (Magennis 82’), Doidge. Unused substitutes: Barnes, Gray, Gullan, S. McGinn, McGregor, Elder.
Referee: Colin Steven.
Report: Rick Payne