Hibs getting to semi-finals of cup competitions is laudable but not unusual, but Joe Newell scoring the goal to set them on their way – in fact any goal – is less customary, averaging one a season since arriving in Edinburgh.
However, the Englishman was not the only one to get on the scoresheet as the Leith side rendered the second half surplus to requirements, with three well-taken goals in the opening 45 minutes to establish an unassailable lead in this Premier Sports quarter-final. Hibs are heading to Hampden for the seventh season out of eight with this 3-1 win over Dundee United at Tannadice.
Their match at the national stadium on either November 20 or 21 will be the club’s fifth successive semi-final, in the League and Scottish Cup and their fourth under manager Jack Ross.
Scott Allan, making only his second start since August 2020, maintained the form he showed as he dragged Hibs back into Saturday’s Premiership game against St Mirren and having provided the killer final pass for Newell’s third-minute opener at Tannadice, he added a second himself, with an exquisite volley in the 38th minute to leave home keeper Trevor Carson helpless and double the lead.
A Martin Boyle spot-kick conversion minutes later, after substitute Mark Reynolds was judged to have brought down Paul McGinn, appeared to have wrapped things up and although Peter Pawlett reduced the deficit with more than half an hour of the game remaining, Hibs had enough of a cushion.
For Hibs, there was an element of unfinished business after their ultimately fruitless efforts in the knock-out tournaments last term, which had taken the shine off a season where they had finished third in the league.
For many, progressing to the last four in this competition and then the final of the Scottish Cup was something to be respected, if not quite celebrated given the way both jaunts ended. But the criticism piled on by others, who deemed it unsatisfactory that they came up short against St Johnstone on both occasions, stung.
Seeking to see this season’s quest through, they were quick off the mark against Tam Courts’ side and in front of a decent travelling support, the early goal settled them.
But, despite the score, they did not have everything their own way and Pawlett will surely be replaying a couple of key moments.
There was the shot in the first half which he should have netted to reduce the deficit and then in the 70th minute, with the home side enjoying an industrious spell, which saw them take the game to Hibs, he was denied the opportunity to make it 3-2. The officials ruled his ‘goal’ offside but there was a suggestion that Lewis Stevenson had played him on.
By that stage United had pulled one goal back, with Kieran Freeman supplying Pawlett and, taking time and a touch, he picked his spot before beating Matt Macey from close range.
An open and competitive game, Kevin NIsbet was inches away from killing things off, when he slid in at the back post but just couldn’t connect with Kyle Magennis’ cross.
But Hibs know the way to Hampden and they didn’t need that goal to get them there.