How it all went wrong for Hibs in 3-0 dismantling by excellent Livingston
While Hibs’ season so far should be viewed as a positive and knee-jerk responses should not be allowed to colour that perspective, neither should that bigger picture be used as a camouflage net to disguise the negatives served up in the past two woeful performances.
Since that superb showing at Rangers on Boxing Day, Jack Ross’s men have returned to Easter Road – but they appear to have left the form that has established them as one of the top teams in the Premiership somewhere along the M8 and, for the second home match in a row, they lacked footballing nous, energy and ingenuity as they succumbed 3-0.
This time there was more than just creativity lacking in the final third, as defensively, they looked dishevelled, conceding goals they should have been capable of snuffing out, and generally being given the runaround by a Livingston side who took the game to their hosts and metaphorically bloodied noses before Hibs could find a way to roll with the punches.
Ballsier, hungrier and more proactive, Livingston continued a resurgence that has now served up seven wins on the bounce – and the ease with which they totted up that winning margin should embarrass the Hibs players.
It should also be a concern. Because, yet again, opponents turned up at their ground and made themselves at home. But this was the first time a Jack Ross Hibs team had lost three in a row and with the next game not until next Monday, they have a slight break to recharge batteries, both mentally and physically.
First they will have to exorcise this one from their minds.
Melker Hallberg, Josh Doig and Drey Wright were all left out, replaced by Alex Gogic, Lewis Stevenson and Stevie Mallan. There was also supposed to be a change in goals before Ofir Marciano pulled up in the warm up with a tight calf, and that saw Dillon Barnes retain his place.
With just over quarter of an hour gone, the Leith side were two goals down and already staring defeat in the face.
The opener came in the ninth minute when Scott Robinson played in Josh Mullen, who enjoyed an inspired afternoon, and he skelped a low strike past Barnes.
In the 16th minute, they made it two. Barnes flew out in an attempt to clear the corner but missed and as it the ball bobbled about in the congested box, with no-one able to clear, it was Livi’s centre-half Jon Guthrie who reacted most emphatically to smash it into the net from his position at the back post.
The third goal was always going to be critical but having made it to the interval lucky to still just be two-down, Hibs conceded the third three minutes after the restart and centre-halves Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon will have nightmares about their part in it.
As Robinson chased onto a long ball forward he broke between the defensive pairing and while they tried to squeeze him out as he made it into the box, he was able to hold them off, turn away from them and gain enough space to stab his finish past Barnes. There was another 42 minutes to endure, as Hibs huffed and puffed, but, in truth, that was when the game was over.
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