Hibs warm up for Aston Villa with victory over Raith Rovers - poor first half, Dylan Vente impact, defensive mistakes

Dylan Vente celebrates with his Hibs team-mates after scoring off the bench against Raith Rovers. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Dylan Vente celebrates with his Hibs team-mates after scoring off the bench against Raith Rovers. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Dylan Vente celebrates with his Hibs team-mates after scoring off the bench against Raith Rovers. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Substitute Dylan Vente scored with his first touch to rescue Hibs and ensure there was no Viaplay Cup slip-up against Raith Rovers ahead of their date with destiny against Aston Villa.

Sandwiched between two huge European ties, a visit from a highly-motivated Championship side bristling with confidence after an unbeaten start to the season was anything but straight-forward for the Easter Road men.

And while some of Hibs' defending will be giving their fans nightmares ahead of facing a side who put four past Everton in the English Premier League on Sunday afternoon, the victory allows Lee Johnson's men to approach the Conference League play-off without the dark clouds of a cup upset hanging over them.

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The outcome was very much in the balance though as Raith – managed by former Hibs captain Ian Murray – lived up to their status as one of the sides fancied to challenge for promotion from the second tier this season. They were certainly the better of the two teams in the first-half as a much-changed Hibs side struggled to get going.

Johnson made six alterations from the midweek heroics in Lucerne – including a first senior start for teenage right-back Kanayo Megwa – but left Martin Boyle and Elie Youan in his starting line-up in the hope of hurting the Rovers defence with their pace. But aside from an early scare for the visitors when Boyle got in behind and forced defender Euan Murray into a last-ditch block the Raith defence was rarely troubled in the opening 45.

It was in the home defence where cracks were showing as Paul Hanlon's limp pass-back forced David Marshall to race from his line to make a point-blank save from livewire Raith striker Callum Smith. Former Hibs man Sam Stanton then overhit a simple pass to Smith when the striker looked set for a clear run on goal in another chance that evolved from a Hibs giving the ball away in their own half – something they can ill-afford to do against Villa.

Johnson brought on Joe Newell for Josh Campbell at the break and the difference in Hibs midfield was evident as the Englishman started pulling the strings. However, Raith continued to threaten and only the post denied Lewis Vaughan the opener when he met Josh Mullin's cross on the half-volley. Hibs immediately raced to the other end and Boyle was brilliantly denied by former Hibs team mate Kevin Dabrowski as the big Pole made a sprawling save as the winger raced through.

Hibs made the breakthrough on 57 minutes with Newell providing the corner-kick which Youan headed into the net. But any prospect of turning thoughts towards Villa evaporated when Vaughan pounced on a yet another mistake in the Hibs defence to slip Smith through on goal and the striker buried the equaliser past Marshall.

The goal was no less than Raith deserved and the onus was on Hibs to respond – which they did instantly with Johnson bringing Vente off the bench and, with his first touch, less than a minute after the restart, the Dutchman turned home Youan's cut-back to restore Hibs' lead.

Raith’s hopes of finding another equaliser were hampered by a red card to Liam Dick for catching Vente with a high boot which resulted in the striker heading back down the tunnel with a bloodied nose after an eventful 20 minute cameo.



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