Queen of the South 2 - 0 Hibernian: Humiliation for Hibs as brave Queens halt revival
HIBERNIAN’S false-dawn start to the season became a nightmare tonightas they ignominiously exited the Scottish Communities League Cup at the hands of Queen of the South.
Scorers: Queen of South - Clark (13), Reilly (42)
Second in the SPL, Hibs tried hard, for sure, but were hapless in defence, aimless in attack and over the piece were second best in every department to the team from two leagues below them. The headlines will be about Hibs losing, but make no mistake, Allan Johnston’s men won this match deservedly and played some very good football, too.
The last cup game played by Hibs was the 5-1 Scottish Cup final by Hearts, when the men in green were abject failures. They were no better last night, playing in white. It was clear from the start that the Second Division co-leaders were prepared to have a go at the Premier League side, and Hibs looked a trifle rattled even at that early stage. Yet the first chance of any real note fell to Hibs after 11 minutes, fell being the operative word. Jorge Claros sclaffed a shot from just inside the box across the front of the goal where the ball dropped at the feet of the lurking Leigh Griffiths. The striker, who is not Mr Popular at Palmerston Park for historical reasons, poked out a boot and saw the ball curve upwards onto the bar and away from goal.
A minute later, Queens had the lead. Daniel Carmichael was allowed to break to the bye-line and he cut the ball back adroitly for Nicky Clark, who made no mistake from close range.
Derek Lyle had not looked comfortable for some time after turning his foot in a tackle, and he was replaced by Gavin Reilly after 22 minutes. It made no difference to Queens’ up-and-at-em approach, and if Hibs had expected to dominate possession, they were sadly disillusioned as the Doonhamers constantly chased and harried them.
Try as they might, Hibs just could not get anything going in the final third of the field, the result being that Shefki Kuqi was reduced to shooting from distance after half an hour of unproductive Hibs play – and his tame shot went straight to goalkeeper Lee Robinson.
Goalscorer Clark missed a golden opportunity to double his side’s lead and possibly put the tie beyond Hibs’ reach after 35 minutes. Daniel Orsi’s superb through ball sent Clark clear through on Williams and even though the goalkeeper stretched himself wide in textbook fashion, Clark should have done better than shoot narrowly past the post. At the other end, Griffiths almost nicked in to score, but Robinson did enough to put him off and the striker’s shot went wide and high. As the half neared its end, Queen of the South were playing some delightful passing football while Hibs were simply comical in defence at times.
So it proved after 42 minutes when Queens carved open the visitors’ porous defence, Chris Mitchell and Carmichael combining to send substitute Reilly into the box where he headed home. Williams again had no chance, and did an encore of his rant against pitiful defending.
At half-time, manager Pat Fenlon had seen enough from a couple of his woeful under-achievers, and took off the left side of his defence and midfield, Kujabi and Callum Booth making way for Alan Maybury and David Wotherspoon. Hibs went straight into attack and almost pulled one back within a minute of the restart, goalkeeper Robinson diving acrobatically to his left to punch away a wickedly curving goalbound free kick by Griffiths. The resultant corner was again punched clear by Robinson, Gary Deegan’s follow-up going well wide.
Yet more terrible Hibs defending gave Reilly and Clark two chances in quick succession, with the former’s shot deflected over and the latter’s header dropping over the bar.
At this point, as the hour mark approached, play was pretty even, but, considering that there are two entire divisions between the teams, that is a damning indictment of Hibs. And it was Queens who were playing the winning stuff.
Fenlon sent on Eoin Doyle for Kuqi in a ‘last chance saloon’ bid to get Hibs going forward, and it appeared to work as the Irishman’s combative qualities proved briefly galvanising. Queen of the South stayed organised in defence, however, and although they visibly tired, they more than held on to the end, Robinson clutching Wotherspoon’s late consolation attempt.
Willie Gibson came on as late substitute for Clark, allowing Queens’ mascots-for-the-night, his children Natalya, Lewis and Rory, to give a cheer. Perhaps not Rory, as he’s only 21 weeks old, but he will be able to say in future that he was one of the 2,658 who were there the night Queen of the South humbled, nay humiliated, Hibernian FC.
Queen of the South: Robinson; Mitchell, Durnan, Higgins, Holt; Carmichael, Young, McKenna, Orsi; Carmichael; Lyle (Reilly 29), Clark (Gibson 76). Subs: Black, Johnston, Atkinson.
Hibernian: Williams; Clancy, O’Hanlon, Hanlon, Kujabi (Wotherspoon 46); Cairney, Claros, Deegan, Booth (Maybury 46); Kuqi (Doyle 69), Griffiths. Subs: Caldwell, Antell.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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