Hibs 1-0 Dundee: Three precious points but three concerns for Hibs ahead of Celtic cup final
Hibs wanted an uplifting send-off before the cup final and they got one courtesy of Paul McMullan. The Dundee winger waved them off with his best wishes in the form of a flying header into his own net in the first half.
Although he has been among Dundee’s best performers since his arrival from Dundee United, initially on loan last season, this was the first time McMullan has scored a competitive goal in a Dundee shirt.
Hibs need all the help they can get right now and they were happy to accept this gift as they secured their first home league win since September.
Less welcome in this week of all weeks was the pre-match news about Josh Doig. He dropped out of the squad due to illness while Chris Cadden hobbled off clutching his groin after 20 minutes. Kevin Nisbet limped off after 67 minutes to be replaced by Jamie Murphy, who was foiled by a good save from Adam Legzdins with 20 minutes left. The substitute will know he should have made things less nervy for caretaker manager David Gray's side.
The three points are nevertheless precious ones for Hibs but they came at a cost with attention now turning to the Premier Sports final at Hampden on Sunday and the question of who will occupy the Hibs dugout.
There was a strange, palpably anxious atmosphere at a sparsely-populated Easter Road. The dread that players might jeopardise their chances of being available for the cup final was a primary reason for this. It wasn’t even a particularly towsy game although Dundee centre-half Ryan Sweeney was sent off seconds before the end after picking up a second booking for dissent.
Dundee sent on both Leigh Griffiths and Jason Cummings towards the end as they sought to take advantage of a Hibs side seemingly intent on playing out a narrow victory without any further mishap.
It was notable that Griffiths was applauded on by the home fans while Cummings was not. The visitors had actually looked more dangerous earlier. Danny Mullen blazed their best chance over five minutes into the second half after Jake Doyle-Hayes miskicked when trying to clear a cross.
The ever-dependable Lewis Stevenson stepped in for Doig while Christian Doidge replaced Cadden in the first half. There was one positive in that Doidge benefited from getting more minutes into his legs. Dundee were already finding it hard to live with the hosts before now being required to cope with an extra striker.
In the end, though, it was one of their own players they had to worry about. Distressingly for Dundee, the decisive goal came from their own throw-in near the Hibs penalty area. Paul McGowan miscued a pass into the path of the last player he will have wanted to invite to head off on the counter.
Boyle hared away pursued by Cammy Kerr and to the Dundee right-back’s credit, he caught up with the winger. Boyle, however, still got a cross away which McMullan, who had also tracked back diligently, launched himself at. He was near the penalty spot when he made perfect contact with the ball to send it arrowing past Legzdins into the corner.
The Dundee fans behind his goal might have twitched and briefly considered jumping in the air before they had time to process the reality of the situation.
The goal had come against them. It is the third game in a row in which Dundee have scored an own goal. These fans should be getting used to it by now.
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