After Saturday’s defeat at home to Falkirk Hibs as a whole needed a boost tonight as we took on Dumbarton at Easter Road in the second round of the League Cup.
Hibs were without suspended Lewis Stevenson and Liam Craig for this clash but Scott Robertson returned following his red card at Tynecastle during the derby.
Debuting was defender Liam Fontaine whose signing of a one year contract was announced today almost at the same time as was the departure of Michael Nelson who leaves Hibernian for Cambridge United.
Hibs starting line up: Oxley, Gray, Fontaine, Forster, Harris, Robertson, El Alagui, Handling, S Allan, Booth, Kennedy.
Substitutes: Perntreou, Cummings (Harris 56) Heffernan, Stanton (Handling 68), Tudur Jones, L Allan, Dunsmore.
David Gray took the Captain’s armband in Liam Craig’s absence.
Kick-off at 19:45 under a clear blue Edinburgh evening sky. Both teams struggled to make any impact in the first half. Dumbarton mostly because they were playing defensively and Hibs because, while they could, yet again, create chances, they failed to hit the back of the net. Shot’s flew everywhere, including defeating the goalie but not a well (lucky) placed Andy Graham who cleared a shot off the line.
Frustrating is not the word. However, if you want a game where you’ll experience every emotion as a football supporter then this match would have it.
Half time came, thankfully. The first half was dreary and a couple of people near me said they were off home. More than a couple it would seem. A shame that people do that, quite understandable but I personally would only leave a match if I was ill or some other emergency occurred. My preference but as it has been proven by Hibs in the past, leaving at half time really does only give you half the match.
Out they came for the second half. No changes in the Hibs line-up.
Six minutes of “same as before” before Dumbarton took advantage through a Michel Megginson finish that was created from an Agnew corner that went too far and was headed back to him from none other than ex-Hibernian player, Colin Nish. Hibs went one down.
Seven minutes later Dumbarton doubled their lead through Mark Gilhaney. Oxley tried to keep it out but to no avail.
It looked tragically like Hibs were going out of the league cup. Emotions varied from frustration, sadness, anger and just the general feeling that we were being let down yet again. What do we have to do? We’ve tried to change everything we possibly can to make a difference on the pitch and still we find ourselves 0-2 down before the hour mark and not looking like we’ll be able to do anything about it.
In typical “new” Hibs fashion the heads never went down. Let’s face it, recent Hibs teams would have barely been able to lift their heads off their chests at that score line but with half an hour to go, why give up? There’s half an hour to make a difference and that’s what this Hibs team did, they kept plugging away.
The final fifteen minutes arrived and yes, it was looking likely that, despite chances being made but balls flying above and around the net but never in, we were going out of the league cup in the second round.
Then Farid El Alagui happened.
His efforts all match had amounted to nothing but in the 78th minute David Gray picked out El Alagui who headed the ball into the net.
GOAL! Yes. Celebrated by the fans but cautiously. Too close to the end of the game. Could Hibs pull it out the bag?
El Alagui clearly thought so because six minutes later Jordon Forster gave the ball to him which he then rammed past the Dumbarton keeper.
Celebrations for this goal were louder. Six minutes to go. We’ve just levelled. In my head I’m thinking we just have to hang on, get ourselves to extra time and win it then, while also thinking that Farid might just fancy a hat-trick in regulation time.
Hibs fans in the East stand led the singing while the entire support got behind the team. COME ON HIBS.
The clock ticked on. Hibs pushed. You could even be forgiven for thinking that they wanted it. That’s because they did.
As most people at the game will note to some hilarity, at 90 minutes, just as the announcer began to explain about extra time he was cut short by Sammy Stanton who rattled the ball into the back of the net. Hibs were leading 3-2 with only the remaining seconds of regulation and stoppage to be played.
Hibs leading 3-2 at 90+ is nothing to be taken for granted though and it would be a nervy 3 minutes added time. Thankfully those three minutes passed (seemed like an hour though) and Hibs fans and players could celebrate an, in the end, well deserved victory. Dumbarton dumped out of the League Cup. Hibs stay in.
Full time: Hibs 3 – 2 Dumbarton. Attendence: 5,066. MotM: Matthew Kennedy.
Thoughts between kick-off and the 78th (first Hibs goal) minute? Rage and frustration because when you look at them, when you watch them closely you can see it’s there, that there is a team wanting to burst free and they are working as a team but the finishing is letting them down. Some of the passing was poor with Dumbarton players being lobbed at unintentionally rather than Hibs players being passed to intentionally. There was panic but it was quelled. The heads never went down and neither they should. Being two down on the hour mark is never reason to give up, it’s about saying, we’re two down but we have 30 minutes to sort this.
Thoughts from 78 minutes onwards. We got one back. Hopes rose. 5,000 fans in Easter Road wanted to believe but then again, this Hibs. The second goal goes in. It’s there. The chance is back. We’ve levelled. We’ve come from two behind. Plus, this is the League Cup, it finished on the night so no replay, if we stuck at 2-2 then we have a chance at finishing it in extra time. Just hang on for the ET Hibs! All the nerves jangled. Fans sang, there were encouraging shouts. Dare to hope Hibees, dare to hope. The belief had well returned, the positivity. There’s a reason that Hibs fans say Keep the Faith and for Hibs the faith came in Sammy Stanton. About time.
Hibs came from behind, turned a negative into a positive. They have proved that it can be done.
Credit goes to, obviously our goal scorers, but to Liam Fontaine who came in as a new signing on match day and was selected for the first team and played 90 minutes. Fairly solid really. The odd error but as a débutante an 8 out of 10 performance. Felt he and Jordon Forster gelled pretty well already, worked hard and he listened to Oxley’s guidance.
Credit to Matthew Kennedy who just worked hard but quietly all game.
I felt that on Saturday against Falkirk we really missed Lewis Stevenson but against Dumbarton Stubbs had worked out how to cover in the absence of Stevenson.
Captaincy of David Gray. He needs to talk more. While I could hear the Dumbarton captain constantly guiding his team (less so in the second half I will admit) I never heard David. Oxley you can’t help but hear, not just as a goalie but in all play. Still, Gray should be given the chance and if Liam Craig is suffering because of the captaincy then it might, as many suggest, do him well to be without it for a while. If it begins to affect David Gray as well then it needs looked at properly. I’m not a big fan of goalies being captains but Oxley could probably cope with it. He is loud, he sees absolutely everything and he isn’t easily distracted.
Credit should also be given to the Hibernian support for this match. Small in number, yes, and it did drop at half time, but the faith was kept. Frustrated shouts and groans were obviously audible but for the most part we were the support that we should be. The singing was constant throughout the match, even at two down. Credit there goes to the East Stand for keeping the singing up. Credit goes to all fans for not booing through the match. For cheering, for singing along, in part, with the songs and for giving it everything when each of our three goals went in.
We deserved this win. The team owed it to themselves and they owed it to us and it was delivered.
Now on to Alloa on Saturday at 3pm. It’s a league game and we need those points. If you can, get along there. £18 per adult, OAPs/concessions/children £9.