Hibs, minus Martin Boyle, make Scottish Cup progress after 1-0 extra time win over Cove Rangers

As Martin Boyle watched from the stand, Hibs got a glimpse of life without him and it was pretty pedestrian and by the time the final whistle sounded, there was relief that they would be in the hat for the next round of the Scottish Cup.

The talismanic forward had been left out of the match squad after Saudi Arabian suitors Al-Faisaly came back in with a bid that reportedly satisfies Hibs £3m price tag.

It is anticipated that the deal, which will be financially life-changing for Boyle, will be rubber stamped on Friday so, in his absence, Hibs had to try to find another way to carve out a victory and protect their cup reputation.

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With seven semi finals or better in the past 10 Scottish Cups, including that 2016 triumph, the prospect of ending their involvement at the fourth round stage of this year’s competition was a miserable one for gaffer Shaun Maloney, especially as the man who had preceded him had sacked last month despite delivering nothing but Hampden showdowns.

Hibs' Ewan Henderson and Cove Rangers' Morgyn Neill during the Scottish Cup Fourth Round tie that went through extra time. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

But the longer the game played out, the more plausible that scenario looked.

They were up against a Cove Rangers side managed by Paul Hartley, who had inflicted significant damage on Hibs in cup duty as a Hearts player, and whose capabilities outstretched their current status as a League One side.

Flying high at the top of the table and favourites for promotion to the Championship, they made things difficult.

Hibs made changes to their line up, following on from Monday night’s defeat to Celtic, with under-fire Kevin Nisbet left on the bench. Christian Doidge was given his start. Newcomers Chris Mueller and Ewan Henderson were given their debuts and it was a first start for Melker Hallberg following his long term knee injury.

Hibs' Chris Mueller looks frustrated during a Scottish Cup Fourth Round tie between Hibernian and Cove Rangers at Easter Road. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

But, it was Nisbet who ultimately came on, and hushed the critics as he netted the extra-time winner to see Hibs through.

Until that point, there had been a lot of huffing and puffing. An open game, Hibs lacked urgency and while there were openings carved out, there was not enough of the men in green an white willing to gamble on the passes fizzed into the box.

Diode came lose with a glancing header in the 25th minute and the ‘scored’ 10 minutes later but he was fagged for offside, although pictures showed that may not have been the correct decision.

But there was a lack of match sharpness in the men around him.

Christian Doidge has a shot on goal during a Scottish Cup Fourth Round tie between Hibernian and Cove Rangers at Easter Road, on January 20, 2022, in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

Mueller was willing to have a dig and was industrious, while Chris Cadden again tried to force things on the right flank.

But Cove were a danger as well and caused plenty of anxiety up front and defended doggedly at the back, limiting the number of clear cut chances Hibs could muster.

But Nisbet was a man who looked keen to make amends for his mostly miss at Celtic Park and answer the criticism that has come his way since.

Denied by Morgyn Neill when he looked set to score late in normal time, he had another couple of sniffs but it was in extra time, when it looked like penalties might be required, that he stepped up, getting on the end of a low Josh Doig cross in the 112th minute and slotted past Kyle Gourlay.

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