Paul Heckingbottom: 6 defining games of his 32-match spell in charge of Hibs

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After 32 games in charge of Hibs, Paul Heckingbottom has been relieved of his duties. We look back at six defining matches of his Easter Road tenure




Dundee 2, Hibs 4; February 22 2019

Paul Heckingbottom was in charge of Hibs for 32 matches

Paul Heckingbottom was in charge of Hibs for 32 matches

Paul Heckingbottom's second game in charge, and first away match, saw Hibs visit Dundee, who at the time were in tenth place, for a televised Friday night fixture.

Florian Kamberi scored after 25 minutes, but Paul McGowan levelled things ten minutes later. On-loan Reading striker Marc McNulty netted five minutes before half time to give Hibs the lead going into the break, and the same player scored again on 63 minutes to extend the lead.

A long-range effort from Stevie Mallan put considerable daylight between the two teams and although Martin Woods reduced the deficit on 79 minutes, Hibs held firm to win 4-2 and record successive wins under Heckingbottom.


Hearts 1, Hibs 2; April 6 2019

Hibs fell behind to a first-half header from Hearts midfielder Peter Haring in Paul Heckingbottom's first derby, but a double from Daryl Horgan either side of half-time gave the Easter Road side a rare win in Gorgie. The Tynecastle away end bounced and swayed to the strains of "Hecky's at the wheel" as travelling fans toasted a first win on Jambo soil since Leigh Griffiths and Ross Caldwell struck in a 2-1 win in 2013.

It may have been Heckingbottom's eighth league game in charge, but it extended the Hibees' astonishing unbeaten run under the new head coach, who had led Hibs to wins over Hamilton, Dundee, St Johnstone, Motherwell and Livingston along with draws against Rangers and Kilmarnock at Easter Road.

Unfortunately for Hibs, that was their last win of the 2018/19 campaign, as draws with Celtic and Hearts in the post-split fixtures were followed by narrow defeats by Rangers, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen.


Stirling Albion 1, Hibs 1: July 13 2019

The first game of the Betfred Cup group stage took Hibs to Forthbank to face Stirling Albion of League Two.

A somewhat puzzling team formation which appeared to have recognised wingers Joe Newell and Daryl Horgan playing at centre-forward and defensive midfield respectively, struggled to break down Kevin Rutkiewicz's side, although a Scott Allan penalty on the stroke of half time gave the visitors the lead.

David Wilson equalised with 20 minutes left to take the match to penalties for a bonus point.

Hibs would go on to win the shoot-out 5-4 but fans feared the worst - especially after the side lost 3-2 to Arbroath in a pre-season friendly.


Rangers 6, Hibs 1: August 11 2019

Matchday two of the 2019/20 league campaign took Hibs to Ibrox to face Rangers. Meetings between the two sides have been particularly feisty since the 2016 Scottish Cup final, and have often been won or lost by the odd goal.

No one had reminded Rangers of this before kick-off, as Jermain Defoe scored twice in the opening 15 minutes to give the Gers a commanding lead. A Hollywood pass from Scott Allan set Daryl Horgan up five minutes before half time and the Irishman reduced the deficit.

However, Sean Mackie's second yellow card and subsequent red made an uphill task for Hibs positively vertical and although Heckingbottom threw on Florian Kamberi for Scott Allan with 20 minutes left in a desperate bid to salvage something from the game, the Ibrox side made their numerical advantage count and really turned the screw.

Defoe bagged his, and Rangers' third on 74 minutes, with Alfredo Morelos adding a double to take the score to 5-1. Sheyi Ojo compounded Hibs' misery with a sixth in injury time and the Easter Road side returned home along the M8 well beaten.

Given Hibs had twice won at Ibrox under Heckingbottom's predecessor Neil Lennon, the manner of the defeat was particularly hard to take for many Hibees.


Hibs 2, St Johnstone 2: August 24 2019

It was this late August game where things began to go sour for Heckingbottom.

With Hibs a goal to the good thanks to Adam Jackson's first-half header, the head coach subbed Scott Allan - who had been played out of position on the right of midfield and as a result had been fairly ineffective - on the hour mark, replacing him with Daryl Horgan.

Howls of derision and loud jeers greeted the decision and the general mood wasn't helped by Michael O'Halloran equalising minutes after the substitution.

Florian Kamberi restored Hibs' lead but an injury-time goal from Jason Kerr led to a delirious Tommy Wright blowing kisses at the home supporters behind his dugout, the loss of two points and further discontentment in the stands.

Heckingbottom's flippant comment post-match - "I didn't know I wasn't allowed to sub Scott Allan" - went down like a lead balloon with the Easter Road fans and the relationship between the head coach and supporters got more and more fractious as the season wore on.


Hibs 2, Ross County 2: October 26 2019

Hibs welcomed a Ross County side containing three former Hibees in the starting line-up and a fourth on the bench to Easter Road as they sought just a second league win of the season.

The sides went in level at half time, but whatever Heckingbottom had said to his players during the break had the desired effect, as Daryl Horgan - on for the second half in place of Melker Hallberg - latched onto a ball from Jason Naismith and fired past Ross Laidlaw to give Hibs the lead.

When Scott Allan added a sumptuous second just five minutes later to give Hibs their first two-goal lead in a match since the start of the season, it looked as though this might be the match in which Hibs turned a corner.

But, some corners are blind, and when former Hibs striker Brian Graham curled in a goal for County with 15 minutes remaining before somehow contriving to miss a free header from close range minutes later, there wasn't a soul in the stadium who couldn't see how the game would pan out.

So when Marcus Fraser collected Fraser Murray's headed clearance and fed Joe Chalmers, who was allowed to sashay his way towards the penalty area by Stevie Mallan and Josh Vela and cordially invited to ping in a 92nd minute equaliser, it came as no surprise to those on the terraces.

Chants of "Hecky, Hecky, get to ****" were accompanied by a cacophony of boos, and it seemed to be just a matter of time before the inevitable.