Ross County 1-0 Hibs match story: Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge red carded as Hampden heroes brought back to earth
After all the happiness they derived from the weekend’s cup performance, this turned out to be a bit of a buzzkill for Hibs.
Not only did they record their fifth league defeat on the bounce, handing bottom of the table Ross County their first home win of the campaign, they also had both Christian Doidge and Martin Boyle sent off in a damaging climax.
By the time the Welshman was dispatched for a lunge on David Cancola, the capital side were already a goal behind and rueing the fact that they had not made more of the chances that had come their way, especially those that had fallen to last season’s top scorer Kevin Nisbet.
While Boyle earned his red for some animated remonstrations with officials following the final whistle.
It was a calamitous end to a game that the club had hoped would get them back on track and help them start climbing back up the Premiership standings.
Postponed from last month, the Hibs team that travelled to the Highlands for this one did so with so much more confidence, thanks to that Premier Sports League Cup semi-final triumph over Rangers on Sunday. But, that belief failed to translate into a positive result.
Although the Covid outbreak that foiled attempts to play this game on its original date and their cup progress have contributed to a fixture pile-up, that will keep the Leith club busy between now and the winter break, manager Jack Ross resisted the urge to rest up any of his Hampden heroes.
The only switch was an enforced one, with the suspended Ryan Porteous making way for Darren McGregor in the three-man backline.
And, there will have been little to trouble manager Jack Ross early doors as Hibs carved out openings.
Both Martin Boyle and Chris Cadden supplied inviting balls into the area but those on the receiving end failed to convert them into something tangible and squash County ambitions.
In the 12th minute, Boyle picked out Nisbet but his downward header, while powerful, was too close to Ash Maynard-Brewer. Soon after Cadden worked another opening and this time Nisbet’s header was even less convincing.
Hibs inability to get their noses in front lifted County and Joseph Hungbo and Jordan White both made their presence felt.
In the 33rd minute Boyle and Cadden were both involved in presenting skipper Paul Hanlon with a side-footed attempt that came off the outside of the post.
After a trundler and another weak header an unhappy Nisbet was replaced by Doidge in the 66th minute.
But it was County who opened the scoring, with substitute Blair Spittal benefiting from some Hibs hesitancy to grab the winner just a minute after he entered the fray.
Hibs kept probing, looking for a way back but there were some suspect moments at the back as well as they were rattled by a County side in search of a second, decisive goal.
And, the game ran away from them as Doidge was punished for his lunge on Cancola.
Frustrated, there were further issues after the final whistle sounded as an angry Boyle was judged to have overdone his protests. But no-one needed to ask the home side if they were happy.
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