Hibs reaction: Well unearth another striker gem and Lee Johnson delivers latest Boyle explanation

Motherwell's Mika Biereth (R) takes the plaudits from fellow sub Jon Obika after scoring his side's second goal v Hibs (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)Motherwell's Mika Biereth (R) takes the plaudits from fellow sub Jon Obika after scoring his side's second goal v Hibs (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Motherwell's Mika Biereth (R) takes the plaudits from fellow sub Jon Obika after scoring his side's second goal v Hibs (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Motherwell 2 Hibs 1 – The visitors’ inconsistent start to the season continues with a deserved defeat at Fir Park against Stuart Kettlewell’s upwardly mobile side.

Here are two talking points from an afternoon which leaves Hibs as one of only two top-flight sides without a league point so far this season. They seek to defend a 3-1 lead against Luzern on Thursday:

Cometh the hour, cometh Biereth

In the papers on the morning of the game Stuart Kettlewell made a point of noting that Hibs had bought a striker, Dylan Vente, for a reported £700,000 during the summer. Motherwell, by contrast, are trimming their squad after reporting recent losses of £1m in their most recent accounts. But this hasn’t stopped some wheeling and dealing by the Fir Park club. In the case of Mika Biereth, it would seem the loan market has proved a very productive area indeed.

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The Arsenal striker made a startling debut in the form of a second half cameo after replacing Theo Bair. He enjoyed around 40 minutes on the pitch and made one goal and scored another. The aforementioned Vente got around the same game-time. He was replaced at half-time as manager Lee Johnson shuffle this cards and it’s clear he is still lacking match fitness.

Biereth, a Danish Under-21 international, is also trying to reach peak condition. His manager suggested there is hopefully even better to come. He has been in and around the Arsenal first team squad and great things are expected. The way he outmuscled Will Fish, his Manchester United loanee opposite man, for the crucial second goal suggests he’s cut out for the more physical demands of the English Premier League. He is, after all, only 20.

It does seem as if Motherwell have unearthed yet another striker gem to extend a long tradition going back to Michael Higdon and Henrik Ojamaa – indeed, Biereth resembles Ojamaa, who’s still paying in his Estonian homeland, in both looks and style of play. Since then there’s been Louis Moult, Curtis Main and of course Kevin van Veen. It just shows you that you don’t have to spend millions – or nearly three-quarters of a million in the case of Hibs – to locate gems, which is what Biereth would appear to be – although it’s early days, admittedly.

Boyle’s wings clipped

Hibs manager Lee Johnson is operating under a degree of pressure just now so it’s probably admirable that he’s not prepared to dismiss medical advice in the case of Martin Boyle. Others in his position might have done – indeed, Johnson admitted he has played a bit fast and loose with such advice in the recent past. But Johnson knows he will need Boyle, who’s still getting up to speed after a serious knee injury, in top-top condition in the coming weeks and months.

Hence, he was left on the bench in the first half v Motherwell yesterday. He was sent on at half-time though struggled to make an impact. He will likely start against Luzern on Thursday in Hibs’ crucial second leg clash as they seek to defend a 3-1 lead and progress to the play-off round of the Conference League. Johnson admits he might also need to “ask a favour” of Josh Campbell, who missed yesterday’s game with a shoulder injury.

Johnson is trying hard to be fair to Boyle. The manager admitted he heard the “grumbles” when he replaced him midway through the second-half against St Mirren on the first league outing of the season. But he stressed anyone “with sense” knew why this had to happen as the winger continues to feel his way back after such a long lay-off.

“There's been a couple of times already when I've gone against the medics and the surgeons,” admitted Johnson after the 2-1 defeat at Fir Park. “Given the Thursday game in mind as well, it was just a game too far in which I could try to squeeze 60 or 90 minutes out of him. In a perfect world we would have been up in this game and then I wouldn't have had to use him at all, but at half-time I felt we needed that spark so he had to come on. To be fair, I can't remember us feeding him. Maybe just a couple of times in the half we've fed him. That's down to Motherwell's good work but also our lack of creativity on the day.”



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