Hibs blow big chance at ten-man Motherwell as best entertainment comes from fans

On a night when Hibs were looking to leapfrog their hosts Motherwell and close the gap on third-placed, city rivals Hearts in the cinch Premiership, this will feel like an opportunity missed after a 0-0 stalemate at Fir Park.

Motherwell's Liam Donnelly (centre) is sent off during a cinch Premiership against Hibs.
Motherwell's Liam Donnelly (centre) is sent off during a cinch Premiership against Hibs.

Granted, this match was played in appalling winy conditions, but Hibs – who finished third last season – were unable to find away past the Steelmen, who held on for a point despite playing the last 20 minutes with ten men due to Liam Donnelly's sending off.

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander will be far more satisfied with the outcome than his Hibs counterpart and former Scotland team-mate Shaun Maloney, even if he, too, was brandished a red card when too vociferously contested Donnelly's dismissal. They remain in fourth place, two points and a place clear of Hibs, but still seven points behind Hearts.

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Maloney's reign is still very much in its infancy and while his Hibs players continue to take on the instructions of their new boss, passing the ball about nicely and stretching the play on the flanks, there was not enough cutting edge in the final third. Naturally, they missed the pace and inspiration of Martin Boyle, now firmly ensconced in Saudi Arabia, in what was officially Hibs' first match without the Australian.

Demetri Mitchell made his Hibs debut.

Hibs were also without their captain, Paul Hanlon, due to a heel injury, but they were never truly troubled defensively. Norwich loanee Rocky Bushiri filled in well at centre-half and Paul McGinn, back from a two-match ban, was rarely flustered either. Hibs' problems were at the other end of the pitch.

Hibs did create a chance just 20 seconds in when Kevin Nisbet scampered free down the left-hand side, but Jake Carroll slid in to block his on-target shot. It appeared a statement of intent by the visitors, yet the match quickly found a mediocre level. A mis-timed challenge by Lewis Stevenson midway through the half on Jordan Roberts, tongue-lashed by the travelling support for his stint at Hearts last season, correctly earned the defender a yellow card and summed proceedings up. The Hibs support were more charitable to their new signing Demetri Mitchell as he emerged for his warm-up. "Oh, Demi, Demi, you used to be a Jambo but you're alright now," they sang, noting his previous stint with their city rivals. Motherwell's fans were less forgiving of their former charge Chris Cadden, who was barracked. Yes, it was one of those nights when the most absorbing action was off the pitch.

Alexander's men toiled to create many meaningful openings either, albeit they had the best opportunity of the first half. A corner kick on 28 minutes was deflected into the path of Donnelly, whose effort was parried by Hibs keeper Matt Macey. The rebound fell invitingly to Kevin van Veen, but he slashed his effort high and wide.

The start of the second half followed much the same pattern, but the game changed when, on 73 minutes, Donnelly recklessly fouled Drey Wright. Already on a booking, referee Andrew Dallas sent the Northern Irishman off, and then flashed the red card at Alexander on the touchline for his protestations.

Kevin van Veen missed Motherwell's best chance of the match.

Hibs responded by bringing on Mitchell for his debut and Ewan Henderson and Christian Doidge to put pressure on their hosts. Henderson so nearly found the net with a cross-shot that skimmed the post, before Doidge spurned Hibs' best chance of the night when blazing over the bar when clean through on goal with minutes remaining. It summed up an evening lacking in quality.

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