Hibs create gap with Aberdeen: Marshall's golden glove display, Miovski's misery, a modicum of revenge

The hosts take down Dons ahead of big festive period – Marshall steals headlines with stunning display

Goalkeeping coaches all over the land should bookmark David Marshall’s performance for Hibs in their 2-0 win over Aberdeen and deliver it as a session whenever inspiration is needed.

A penalty save, numerous other impressive blocks, including clawing a shot millimetres away from it going over the line and playing a major part in his team’s opener. No wonder his name rang around Easter Road just before full-time as the Hibs fans acclaimed the undisputed man of the match.

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It hasn’t always been this way for Marshall and Hibs. Not that long ago, many supporters wanted him out of the team, as the goals whistled in and he struggled with manager Nick Montgomery’s emphasis on playing out from the back. But with hard work and the tutelage of new goalkeeping coach Miguel Miranda, the former Scotland stopper has raised his game. This was undoubtedly his best-ever performance in his 18 months at the club, trumping his two penalty saves last season against Livingston.

Will Fish heads home Hibs' second goal.Will Fish heads home Hibs' second goal.
Will Fish heads home Hibs' second goal.

Some members of the Tartan Army will raise an eyebrow at this display. Marshall called time on his international career in the summer of June 2022 but there is still some debate on which goalkeepers should join current No 1 Angus Gunn on the plane to Germany next summer. Let’s delve into the world of hypothesis but if Marshall was available, on current form he would push Liam Kelly and Zander Clark for a spot in the squad.

Perhaps Marshall’s zen-like display comes from being solely focused on club football. He was instrumental last week in the 2-1 win over Dundee and while goalscorers Dylan Vente and Will Fish got the glory, Marshall was by far the best player on the pitch. Aside from the penalty save on 77 minutes, he made six other crucial interventions, two of which came from Miovski, who will want to forget this match in a hurry.

Hibs were not at their absolute best in an extremely entertaining encounter between two good teams, but to say Aberdeen were miles ahead would also be a stretch. There was a period in the second half, just before Fish’s decisive goal, when Aberdeen crashed against the Hibs defence like vicious waves off a harbour wall but could not breach the defences. Possession was evenly split at 53 per cent in favour of the Dons but they had more shots, all 24 of them. What they also had was a more porous rearguard.

The opening goal, on 17 minutes, will no doubt infuriate Aberdeen, Their Montenegrin defender Slobodan Rubezic has a lot of the raw materials to become a very proficient centre-half but like all young players, he makes mistakes and this latest one was crucial. Rubezic completely misjudged the flight of David Marshall’s long pass into the final third, allowing Martin Boyle to scamper clear and bear down on Dons keeper Kelle Roos. The Australian unselfishly played the ball across to Vente, who tapped home and survived a close VAR check for offside to break a nine-game scoring duck.

David Marshall repels Bojan Miovski in a stunning display as Hibs prevailed over Aberdeen at Easter Road.David Marshall repels Bojan Miovski in a stunning display as Hibs prevailed over Aberdeen at Easter Road.
David Marshall repels Bojan Miovski in a stunning display as Hibs prevailed over Aberdeen at Easter Road.

Aberdeen have shown often enough that they possess the fortitude to battle back from adversity and they set about getting an equaliser. Marshall plunged to his right to stop a low Jamie McGrath effort but his next save was even better, diving the other way to stop Miovski’s back-post effort from crossing the line. From the press box, it looked certain to be a goal.

Hibs posed a threat on the break and their midfield duo of Dylan Levitt and Joe Newell competed well against Aberdeen’s trio in that area. Marshall’s next save, again from Miovski, came just after hour, deflecting the striker’s effort on to the post, with Fish beating Ester Sokler to the ball as it rolled along the line. The Dons fans roared in anticipation of finally seeing a goal but it was Hibs who landed the next blow.

Robson rued the simplicity of it. Boyle swung over a corner from the left and Fish, who is going from strength to strength at Hibs, rose highest to head home from close range. It gave the hosts some breathing space.

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They should have required it when Lewis Stevenson was pinged for a handball in the box and referee Willie Collum immediately pointed to the spot. Miovski struck it cleanly but Marshall guessed correctly and saved. With that, you felt it just wasn’t going to be Aberdeen’s day.

Not that they stopped knocking on the door. Marshall blocked a Jack Milne effort with his feet, took a Connor Barron drive from close range in the chest and batted away a stoppage-time Leighton Clarkson effort. This was golden glove stuff.

Hibs are now back into fifth place, three points behind Hearts in third, and go into Wednesday night’s trip to Celtic Park in good fettle. This was their last home match between now and the Edinburgh derby on December 27, with journey’s to Livingston, St Johnstone and Ross County following their date with the champions. There is an assured nature about this team that will hearten Hibs fans. Progress is being made under Montgomery ahead of a key festive spell.

For Aberdeen, they remain in tenth as their league travails remain. Beating Kilmarnock back at Pittodrie becomes vital for them to assuage any doubts that may be creeping in about their credentials for third place. They are now eight points behind Hibs, albeit with two games in hand, and trail Hearts by ten. Given they overhauled an 11-point deficit to the Jambos to claim the best-of-the-rest gong last season, there should not be concern – yet. This was a decent performance from Aberdeen and night and day from the last time they were in Leith, when Jim Goodwin was sacked on the spot following a 6-0 drubbing.

The outcome, though, was the same, as Hibs gained a modicum of revenge for last month’s painful Viaplay Cup semi-final loss. Come the business end of the season, expect these two to be bang there.