Hibernian 3 - 0 Dundee: Sturdy Hibs reap benefits of settled life at home
WHAT was once a rarity now seems routine. After winning only two home matches in the SPL last season, Hibernian already have three to their name this time round.
Hibernian - Doyle (29), Griffiths (pen 50), Wotherspoon (70)
There was nothing spectacular about the victory over Dundee which took them to the top of the table on Saturday, but, if anything, that made the result even more reassuring for the Edinburgh club’s supporters. Competence may not be the most enthralling of sporting virtues, but it was the one which Hibs were most glaringly in need of last year, and it has been the key to their current improved form.
A balanced, hard-working side, they do not do much wrong – and, more importantly, don’t panic when they do make mistakes. Ably marshalled by centre-half and captain James McPake, they are also far more solid in midfield, where they regularly win 50-50 balls – a feat which, like those elusive home wins, was seen only irregularly last season.
They knew they were expected to win this one, and they duly delivered. No panic, no jitters, and no sniping from the stands either. Just a solid, professional performance, which, if anything, should have produced a bigger winning margin.
Dundee manager Barry Smith said his team had had the best chances of the first half, and he might well have been correct. More pertinent, however, was the fact that Hibs converted one of their chances – and that once they had taken the lead, there was no way they were going to lose it.
Both teams had had decent chances by the time that opening goal came: Leigh Griffiths found the side netting with a tenth-minute shot and, at the other end, Jim McAlister had a decent effort saved by Ben Williams. But Hibs definitely looked more likely to score and they duly did just before the half-hour mark, when Paul Cairney made a fine run down the left and delivered an inch-perfect cross to Eoin Doyle who directed a header past Rab Douglas.
Five minutes later, McPake had a difficult chance to put the home team two up following a scramble in the box, but shot over on the turn. The defender then did enough at the other end to put off former Hibs striker Colin Nish, who sidefooted wide of the target.
Going in at the interval just a single goal down, Dundee could at least harbour hopes of a recovery. Unfortunately for them, any such optimism was extinguished only a few minutes into the second half when Griffiths doubled his team’s lead from the penalty spot.
The award, for a trip by McAlister on Cairney, was debatable, but Dundee only had themselves to blame for failing to clear their lines properly and allowing Hibs to regain possession in the area. Griffiths took the kick and found the net.
Cairney should then have made it 3-0 a quarter of an hour later, but his soft shot was cleared off the line by Gary Irvine. Then Griffiths, showing far more conviction, had a fierce shot expertly saved by Douglas.
It was apparent by that time, however, that Hibs were likely to score again, and the goal arrived just a minute after Douglas had denied the striker. Jorge Claros found David Wotherspoon, and, after rolling the ball inside to improve his angle, the wide midfielder curled a shot home.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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