Losing late goals a bad habit for Hibs

Kilmarnock's Dario del Fabro celebrates scoring his late equaliser  at Easter Road. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
Kilmarnock's Dario del Fabro celebrates scoring his late equaliser at Easter Road. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS
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Chris Maxwell described Kilmarnock’s last-gasp equaliser as a sickener and few Hibernian fans will have disputed that description as they trudged out of the ground lamenting the same old frailties that troubled them earlier in the campaign but looked to have been banished in the past few games.

“We can sit here and analyse every part of the game and say ‘what if’ but the fact is we’ve not won the game when we should have,” acknowledged the disconsolate keeper. “We can pick the bones out of it and come to any conclusion we like but we’re all gutted.

“We should see the game out. We’ve defended really well in the main and they’ve had three or four chances and stuck two of them away.”

The inability to hold on to leads and see games out have cost them dearly this term and while they are on a nine-game unbeaten run, six draws in that sequence have denied them the points they need to claim a spot any higher than sixth. The fact that they have conceded the winning position in so many of their games has been an even bigger cause of contention.

Even in the three recent wins, two of them have seen goals lost late, and left them clinging on in stoppage time. On Saturday, they had more than enough possession and plenty of opportunity to seal the win, long before Kilmarnock managed to shake themselves out of their sleep-like trance and start to play the way they can but the Leith side couldn’t kill the game off and were again left kicking themselves as they slipped up in the final seconds.

Jack Ross’s men had taken the lead in the 19th minute when Christian Doidge, pictured, extended his scoring streak, adding his sixth goal in four games.

He can credit Laurentiu Branescu with giving him a helping hand. The Killie 
keeper embarrassingly failed to gather a fairly harmless Scott Allan delivery and allowed the Hibs striker to rise above him and send a header up and back down just under the crossbar.

The home side were dominant throughout the first half as their guests looked so slow in thought and deed and gifting the Easter Road side the space and time they needed to set their own tempo and rhythm and they should have made that matter more but instead went in at the break just one goal to the good.

They nabbed a timely second, though, just two minutes after the restart and looked like they could go on and score more.

The goal was something special, as Jason Naismith ventured upfield from his full-back berth and walloped a screamer past Branescu. If the keeper was a contributor for Hibs’ first, he was a helpless bystander as the second fizzed past him.

But Hibs have a weakness, either mentally or physically, when it comes to seeing out matches. Kilmarnock are more resilient. Unwilling to accept defeat, they came charging back as the match reached its denouement.

“At half-time the manager was very angry with us. Because we hadn’t played well,” said Dario del Fabro, understating just how sluggish the Ayrshire side had looked.

“That was strange because we have a humble team and we fight in every game. But, in the first half, we were completely out of our minds. I think we were a bit scared by the aggression of Hibs. In the second half, our manager tried to inspire us and we did our best.”

They got a 66th minute goal when Alex Bruce capitalised on Hibs’ inability to clear their lines. That set up a late charge from the Rugby Park side and after chances went a-begging at both ends and with the 
seconds counting down, Del Fabro scored the equaliser.

“It was emotional to score my first goal here in the Scottish Premiership – and it was a great comeback,” said the 24-year-old defender.

“In the second half, we switched on our minds and changed the game completely. It was a nice finish.”