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Stirling Albion 0-2 Hibernian: Hibs stroll to win

Hibs Lewis Allen flies through the air following a challenge by Chris Smith of Stirling Albion yesterday. Picture: Getty Images

Hibs Lewis Allen flies through the air following a challenge by Chris Smith of Stirling Albion yesterday. Picture: Getty Images

  • by DARREN JOHNSTONE AT FORTHBANK
 

Goals by Jordan Forster and Alex Harris gave Hibs a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win – their third of the pre-season campaign – at Stirling Albion.

Scorers: Hibernian - Forster (28), Harris (56)

However, in dominating the friendly, Hibs manager Alan Stubbs probably learned little more about trialist goalkeeper Antoine Gounet in his first game for the club.

It was another encouraging work-out for the Easter Road side as they continued their flawless defensive form; Hibs have not conceded a goal in all four of their outings.

Following the departures of Ben Williams, Sean Murdoch and Paul Grant prior to Stubbs’ arrival as Terry Butcher’s replacement, Hibs remain desperately short of options between the sticks.

Gounet – a former team-mate of Farid El Alagui at Brentford – has recently been training at East Mains and he did all that was asked of him at Forthbank. Since he was rarely tested by the home side, this mainly involved collecting the occasional cross during a largely uneventful afternoon for the Frenchman.

Former Falkirk forward El Alagui was handed his debut in attack following his arrival last week, and was supported by Harris – returning from an ankle knock – and Sam Stanton on the flanks.

Stubbs – who was missing the injured Paul Heffernan and Jason Cummings, named a three-man midfield that comprised Liam Craig, Owain Tudur Jones and Scott Robertson.

Hibs playmaker Harris was looking to make up for lost time after struggling to get going last season due to an ankle operation that kept him out for six months, and the signs were good, albeit against Scottish League One newcomers Albion, yesterday afternoon.

The 19-year-old created the Leith outfit’s first real chance after eight minutes, flitting past Lee Hamilton before dragging a right-footed effort wide from around 20 yards.

Before a sizeable away following at Forthbank, Hibs did most – if not all – of the pressing in the first half.

Stubbs clearly wants his full-backs – on this occasion Stevenson and David Gray – to participate in the attacking third and the former created the next opportunity.

Stevenson did well to advance into the area and cut the ball back to El Alagui. The former Bairns forward’s touch took him wide and his left-footed strike flew harmlessly past the target.

Midfielder Tudur Jones then got involved in the action, firstly when he headed over a Craig corner, then met a Stevenson cross that he nodded into goalkeeper Callum Reidford’s arms.

Hibs went ahead after 28 minutes with a goal that was credited to Forster.Craig curled a teasing left-footed free kick towards the back post and the defender forced the ball home through a ruck of bodies.

Albion had offered little in the attacking half up to that point, but they finally gave their fans something to get excited about when former Dundee forward Doris got goal-side of Paul Hanlon following a Lewis Coult flick-on, but he curled his right-footed shot around the post from 18 yards.

Greig McDonald’s side went even closer just two minutes before the break. Following Gounet’s tackle on Doris at the edge of the area, the ball broke to Phil Johnston who lifted the ball over the stranded goalkeeper but he was unlucky to see his effort come back off the upright.

The danger was still not over and Hanlon did brilliantly with a diving header to keep out substitute Dale Fulton’s stinging drive on the goal-line.

With seconds left in the half, a flowing Hibs move involving El Alagui, Harris and Stevenson created another great chance , this time for Stanton, who pulled a shot wide from a tight angle inside the area.

Hibs made a bright start following the break, and El Alagui fired a shot that crashed just wide of the post, then Forster struck the post from a tight angle after Craig’s corner slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Reidford.

But Harris doubled his side’s lead with a well-taken goal after 56 minutes. After plucking Craig’s pass out of the air inside the area, the winger expertly wrapped his left-foot around the ball to send a shot back across goal beyond Reidford.

Stubbs, as expected, made a raft of changes during the second half, and one of them – Lewis Allan – had a shot from inside the penalty area that was blocked by Reidford.

Stirling Albion: Reidford, Hamilton, trialist (Munn 85), McClune (Fulton, 32), Wedderburn, C Smith, Johnston (Lee-Smith 46), Comrie, G Smith, Doris, Coult (Cunningham 69). Substitute not used: Paterson.

Hibernian: Gounet, Gray (Nelson 76), Forster (Gardiner 87), Hanlon, Stevenson (Booth 69), Craig, Jones (Handling 58), Roberts, Harris, Al Alagui (Allan 58), Stanton. Substitute not used: Perntreuo.

 

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