Hibs 5-2 Inverness CT: Hibees surge into Scottish Cup semis

Just a few days ago, Hibernian owner Ron Gordon set out his vision for the club, with cup semi-finals as one of his goals.

Adam Jackson opens the scoring for Hibs against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS
Adam Jackson opens the scoring for Hibs against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Picture: Paul Devlin / SNS

Last night Jack Ross and his players proved they are capable of living up to those expectations, easing past 10-man Inverness Caledonian Thistle to book their place in the final four of this season’s William Hill Scottish Cup

In the end it was a comfortable night as the Premiership side wore down their lower league rivals and, had it not been for the goalmouth heroics of Mark Ridgers and yet another squandered spot-kick by the Leith side, the margin of victory could have been even greater.

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Lamenting Scott Allan’s penalty miss on Saturday – the club’s second in three games – Ross said he was happy to leave his players to decide who would take the next one whenever it came along.

Young striker Jamie Gullan scores his first goal for the Hibs top team. Picture: Rob Casey / SNS

But after last night’s unseemly tug-of-war between Paul Hanlon and Marc McNulty, he may opt for greater clarity going forward.

The striker, who is on loan from Sunderland, was the man who had earned the 30th minute penalty, troubling Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s Kevin McHattie to such an extent that the defender had to take a handful of his jersey to keep him close.

But Allan was also the man who had squandered his opportunity against Ross County, and was therefore deprived of taking another by his captain, who assumed responsibility himself. Having so publicly exerted his authority, Hanlon really had to score. He didn’t. His kick was saved by Ridgers, who also dealt with the rebound.

In the end it did not matter as Hibs snapped up more than enough of the chances that came their way.

They had hoped to get off the mark early on when Martin Boyle went down in the box. He had burst through onto a McNulty ball but Ridgers was off his line and although their appeared to be contact with the keeper, Boyle stumbled on before hitting the deck.

The home crowd appealed for a penalty but referee Nick Walsh chose instead to book the Hibs winger for diving. That was a decision which spurred on the home side, with the likes of McNulty, Christian Doidge, Allan and Boyle all working to carve out openings. But Hibs couldn’t get past the determined and well-organised Highlanders, who marshalled them well.

Then came the penalty. Hanlon will accept he should have done better but it was a night when Ridgers was in fine shot-stopping form.

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It summed up the spirit of the away side, who were full of belief.

In the 35th minute, Inverness almost made Hibs pay when Tom Walsh crashed a well struck effort off the inside of the post and out again. They may be operating at a lower level on a week to week basis but the Championship side were as intent on a day out at Hampden as their top tier hosts.

Hibs were the team to make the breakthrough, though, when Allan sent in a deep 37th minute free-kick, Doidge flicked it on and Adam Jackson diverted the ball into the Inverness goal with a delicate touch in mid air.

That was just the start as Allan and then Greg Docherty increased the lead before their visitors pulled one back through Carl Tremarco.

Allan’s 57th-minute goal came from a breakaway after Inverness had been calling in vain for a penalty, when Tremarco looked to be pulled back.

Hibs burst upfield at pace and hit Inverness with a sucker punch as Boyle picked out his colleague and Allan made no mistake.

Docherty then made it 3-0 to the hosts with a clinical strike from inside the area, in the 70th minute.

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In between Ridgers had defied Jackson and later pulled off a superb stop from McNulty but Inverness responded in the 72nd minute through Tremarco who scored with a deflected effort from a tight angle. Any hopes of a Caley Thistle comeback were ended when their defender, Brad McKay, was sent off for a wild lunge at Doidge, leaving Hibs to pick them off.

Substitutes Stephane Omeonga and young Jamie Gullan were happy to capitalise and cemented Hibs’ advantage, with beautiful finishes in the 81st and 83rd minutes. For the latter, it was his first goal for the first team and it was a deft conversion.

The away side were beaten but unbowed and Nikolay Todorov reduced the deficit with three minutes remaining.

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