Hibs return to winning ways against Kilmarnock - but it wasn't easy on the eye

On a pitch that made delivering quality football far from straightforward, Hibs at least rediscovered their ability to grind out a win and gave themselves a welcome boost ahead of next weekend’s trip to Hampden.

Alex Gogic launches the strike that gave Hibs their two goal advantage over Kilmarnock at Easter Road. Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group

Their first victory in five games, it was enough to take them back into third place in the Premiership and, despite a first half that was difficult to watch, it gave the club scope to focus on the positives.

Manager Jack Ross was able to give his two latest signings, Jackson Irvine and Chris Cadden, a run-out and while Joe Newell remained a notable miss as he recuperates from a groin injury his gaffer hopes will clear up in time for the Betfred Cup semi-final, the side were able to find their way past a Kilmarnock side who were unbeaten in three.

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On top of that, there was also the unlikely contribution from Alex Gogic as the defensive midfielder twice got himself in a position to threaten Danny Rogers’ goal. The keeper denied the Cypriot international in the first instance, blocking his 48th-minute header, but could do nothing when he latched onto substitute Christian Doidge’s lay off to send a searing shot high into the net with 10 minutes remaining.

“I would like to say that I see him do that in training regularly, but I don’t,” joked Ross, well aware of the rarity of the goal. “In fact, he quite often gets chased out of the finishing drills when he tries to get involved!

“It’s a heck of a finish, to be fair, and I thought it capped an excellent performance.

“I wouldn’t want to say the game suited him, but it wasn’t a pretty game, the pitch isn’t great and his contribution was good. I’m pleased for him.”

It was a game where he did what he does best. He protected the back line, he broke up play and while his distribution was sometimes disappointing, he had enough of an influence to please his boss.

Ross had set his team out with Gogic and Melker Hallberg in front of the back four, offering solidity and giving the three of Irvine in between Martin Boyle and Jamie Murphy, licence to push on in support of Kevin Nisbet.

Starting Irvine was a risk but it worked. He gave the side impetus and his movement gave team-mates options. The fact he was able to last more than 70 minutes was also a boost.

“I was surprised he lasted as well as he did but he felt ready,” said Ross. “He will get better but, equally, I thought his contribution was excellent for someone who hasn’t played since March.”

In a game crying out for something to break the scrappy monotony, the opener came in the 52nd minute.

It was an own goal from Alan Power but young Josh Doig deserves praise for getting to the bye-line and whipping in the dangerously-inviting cross.

Kilmarnock came close to a comeback in the 69th minute but Nicke Kabamba’s angled shot clattered off the inside of the post and out.

When Gogic scored his goal, it put the game out of the visitors’ reach and gave Ross the option to make some more changes, giving the other new boy Cadden his debut.

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