Hibs juggernaut rolls on as win over Kilmarnock creates gap in perfect October
October is proving to be a fruitful month for Hibs, as Jack Ross’ men chalked up their fifth win of it with a 1-0 triumph over Kilmarnock.
This has been a hectic period for the Hibees, navigating Betfred Cup fixtures without a slew of players and keeping up their fine Premiership form. The only slight blemish was last weekend’s draw at Ross County.
They more than made up for it in Ayrshire, snaffling all three points courtesy of Kevin Nisbet’s first-half penalty.
They could make it a month to remember next weekend when, on Halloween, they meet Hearts at Hampden for a Scottish Cup semi-final. Their form is enough to give most opponents the heebie-jeebies. Jambos boss Robbie Neilson was in the stands to watch on.
Mind the gap
This hard-fought triumph means that, for at least 18 hours, Hibs are in third spot as they leapfrogged idle Aberdeen. Most importantly, they are now a whopping ten points clear of Killie in fifth place on 24 points.
Even at this stage of the season, just 12 games in, that is sizeable advantage. The top four are leaving the pack behind.
Defence strong one again
Hibs recorded their sixth clean sheet of the season with a masterclass in defending. Nicke Kabamba and Chris Burke are handfuls, yet Hibs’ back-four held them at bay cosily. Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon were magnificent in central defence, assisted by Paul McGinn and Lewis Stevenson, and in the second half Josh Doig. You don’t get much change out of them.
Goalkeeper Ofir Marciano didn’t put a foot wrong either. The Israeli seems to have no scars from his clanger a few weeks ago on international duty.
Disaster for Dikamona
Former Hearts defender Clevid Dikamona had only just forced his way into the Kilmarnock starting XI but he had a miserable afternoon here.
The Congolese centre-back misjudged his challenge on Christian Doidge in the box to concede a penalty on 27 minutes and then, eight minutes later, he suffered what looked like a very serious injury after landing awkwardly following an aerial due. The 30-year-old was stretchered off and taken to hospital in audible agony.
Story of the match
The opening exchanges at a fresh Rugby Park were even. Neither team managed to create anything of note, cancelling each other out with similar formations.
Killie’s defence had looked comfortable with Nisbet and Doidge until a long ball from McGinn crept in behind Dikamona and the defender’s challenge on Welshman in the box was just a fraction mistimed. Referee Colin Steven pointed to the penalty spot and Nisbet sent Danny Rogers the wrong way.
Besides Dikamona’s injury, the rest of the half passed without incident, with Hibs happy to soak up limited pressure.
The second half had more action. Alex Dyer’s men pressed for an equaliser, but Hibs’ defence was robust.
Hibs had the better chances to add to the scoring. A goal-bound Doidge header deflected over, Stevie Mallan fired a shot inches wide from just outside the box and a drilled McGinn effort suffered the same fate.
In the end, those misses mattered little. The Hibs juggernaut rolls on.
Kilmarnock: Rogers; Ibsen Rossi, Broadfoot, Dikamona (Findlay 38), Waters; Dicker (Brophy 67), Power; Burke, Tshibola (Mulumbu 82), Kiltie (Pinnock 67); Kabamba.
Hibs: Marciano; P McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Stevenson (Doig 46); Boyle, Gogic, Newell, Mallan (Hallberg 87); Nisbet (Magennis 82), Doidge.