BSC Glasgow 1 - 4 Hibernian: Marc McNulty has a ball but Hibs make heavy weather of victory
Hibs proved the worst possible guests at the temporary home of BSC Glasgow, a club whose manager Stephen Swift joked only own four balls.
Make that three after Marc McNulty took off with the traditional reward for his hat-trick. “We were wanting it back!” said Swift afterwards. It’s unknown how many others were lost on an afternoon when, in the swirling conditions, several were hoofed out of the stadium.
BSC will have at least been left with a decent-sized cheque to replace them prior to their their next home Lowland League fixture against Cumbernauld Colts. Things will slowly return to normal after the high excitement of their run to the last 16 of the Scottish Cup. It finally came to an end in front of 2,100 hardy fans yesterday.
“History is overrated” one banner in the home end contended. Hibs asserted their credentials over the upstarts from the west end of Glasgow but it was far from straightforward in blowy conditions that worsened the longer the game went on.
Three fine strikes by McNulty on his second full debut for the club secured a home tie against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the last eight. But you do wonder where Hibs might have been without his sure-footed finishing.
They did not create too much else in the way of chances but then the ability to be clinical is a quality that is meant to set top players apart from their lower-league counterparts. McNulty certainly demonstrated this. On an afternoon when they required luck, BSC were downed by a player wearing the No 13 shirt.
The conditions were not quite bad enough to make it a level playing field either. Still, it was only in the last 20 minutes or so when Hibs truly began to stamp their authority on the proceedings. Greg Docherty, below, on his full Hibs debut, made it 4-1 by tapping home with four minutes left. He was involved in all McNulty’s goals – directly assisting two of them – and the pair of deadline-day signings look to have struck up a good understanding already.
BSC were still very much in the game at half-time. Ross Smith’s header seven minutes before the interval halved the deficit and meant the hosts started the second half on the front foot as they sought to grab an equaliser.
The wind had begun to swirl more viciously by this point. For a spell it felt like anything might happen. Tom Collins’ inability to connect well enough to Jamie McCormack’s cross from the right 12 minutes after half-time was perhaps the defining moment as far as the hosts are concerned.
His shot trundled past the post at a stage of the game when Hibs were looking far from steady. They had also survived an earlier penalty shout when Paul Hanlon bundled over Tom Orr.
Despite Jack Ross stressing he would be treating the game like any other, that didn’t seem to be the case at first. Otherwise we can look forward to Hibs lining up with three at the back and two up front this Wednesday evening against Ross County.
Not that they persisted with this set-up. The fact Ross opted to change to four at the back in the second half reflected how well BSC were doing at that point. The Hibs manager appeared to have been vindicated with this adventurous formation at first. McNulty slotted home Martin Boyle’s through ball and then smashed Docherty’s cross from the left into the top corner
Still, there was plenty to hearten 200 or so BSC fans huddled beneath the roof at the home end of a stadium their club rent from Alloa Athletic. BSC spurned a chance to go ahead when Martin Grehan fluffed a chance from around 12 yards out.
BSC were finding pockets of space, hence Ross’s decision to pull Steven Whittaker back from centre midfield to defence at the start of the second half. He later admitted the original formation hadn’t worked. The alteration came too late to prevent BSC getting on the scoresheet after 38 minutes through former Dundee United and Peterhead defender Smith’s header. Stephane Omeonga conceded a free-kick midway into the Hibs half and BSC playmaker Declan Hughes floated in a free-kick which Smith did well to get his head to amid a cluster of bodies. Even more impressively, he succeeded in directing it far enough into the corner to evade the diving Ofir Marciano. The Hibs goalkeeper had already been called on to make a fine save from Orr’s hooked effort.
But Hibs’ class told as the game wore on and tiredness set in to their part-time opponents’ legs. Another fine pass by Docherty released McNulty, who tucked the ball beyond Ryan Marshall. A multi-pass move then presented Docherty with a deserved goal, McNulty returning the compliment with the final assist.