A SECOND half goal from OH Leuven’s Gambian striker Ibou was enough to give the Belgian side victory against a Hibs team that had plenty of chances in front of goal but failed to convert any of them, in the second match of the Edinburgh side’s pre-season tour.
With an early afternoon kick off in Vlissigen tomorrow, there were some surprises in the Hibs line up, with Alan Maybury lining up in the centre of midfield and striker Eoin Doyle on the left of the three attacking midfielders supporting Ross Caldwell in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Pat Fenlon’s team created few chances in a scrappy opening 45 minutes at the Den Dreef Stadium, with Leuven goalkeeper Logan Bailly only called into action on one or two occasions to deal with efforts from Ross Caldwell and David Wotherspoon. At the other end of the park, Ben Williams kept the Jupiler League outfit at bay, saving first from Ibou and then from Chuka as Hibs survived sustained pressure without the influential James McPake marshalling the defence after picking up a knock against Lierse SK in midweek.
The introduction of Leigh Griffiths, who travelled out to join the squad earlier today after signing an initial 6-month loan deal with the club, injected some life into the Hibs attack as they created more chances in the second half, with Doyle and Griffiths seeing their attempts dealt with comfortably by Bailly in the Leuven goal. Pat Fenlon brought on Paul Cairney and Jorge Claros as he sought to shuffle his midfield, but with 18 minutes left, Leuven striker Ibou collected the ball on the edge of the box before rifling a shot low past Williams.
Hibs did create chances to equalise in the remaining minutes, but a mixture of misfortune and good defending meant that the Belgians held out for a narrow win. Hibs can be pleased with their efforts though, as they continued their patient passing game that served them well against East Fife and, to an extent, Lierse SK in the opening match of the tour.
The capital side next face a Zeeland select XI in tomorrow’s match in the Netherlands, where they have been based this week, with kick off at 2.30pm local time.
Hibs: Williams; Clancy, Stephens, Hanlon, Booth; Stevenson, Maybury, Doyle, Sproule, Wotherspoon; Caldwell
Subs: Claros for Maybury, Griffiths for Sproule, Cairney for Caldwell, Handling for Stevenson.
Subs not used: Antell, Kujabi, O’Hanlon, Stanton.