Kevin Nisbet helps Hibs paper over cracks as Dundee United deprived of deserved victory

An injury-time equaliser from Kevin Nibset may have spared Hibs from a damaging defeat but the frustration of the home support was still evident after the 2-2 draw with Dundee United.

The red hot striker has solved at least one of the issues faced by Lee Johnson's side with his double against United – following on from the hat-trick scored in Motherwell the previous weekend – taking his tally to seven goals in six games since returning from long-term injury after the World Cup break.

But Hibs are conceding at the other end as quickly as Nisbet can score them, and while a last minute leveller would normally lift the gloom, the cheers around Easter Road following the equaliser were quickly converted into boos when the full-time whistle followed shortly afterwards. For exasperated Hibs fans, it was a goal that only papered over the cracks.

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The result was harsh on the visitors, who took charge of the game in the first half, outplaying the hosts to deservedly go in at the break with a 2-1 lead, before producing a solid defensive effort to keep Hibs at arms bay in the second half.

Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1 against Dundee United. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1 against Dundee United. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Hibs striker Kevin Nisbet celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1 against Dundee United. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Just when the finishing line was in sight, the United defence made the mistake of allowing Nisbet half a yard in the box, and that was enough for the striker to find the space he needed to get a shot away and find the net.

It came just in the nick of time for Lee Johnson with Hibs fans preparing to vent their fury as the atmosphere inside Easter Road turned as miserable as the Leith weather.

With injuries to Paul Hanlon and Chris Cadden, Hibs’ back four had a makeshift appearance with Will Fish partnered alongside Rocky Bushiri for the first time, and Josh Campbell deployed at right-back. With defensive options so limited, it was somewhat surprising to see Ryan Porteous berthed in midfield.

He lasted just 20 minutes in that role before Johnson moved him back, and pushed Campbell forward, changing his tactics altogether after watching his side fall 1-0 inside six minutes to one of the poorest goals conceded all season.

A United throw-in found Arnauld Djoum breaking from midfield completely unmarked. The ball was worked to Steven Fletcher in the box and rather than make a challenge, Hibs defenders resembled statues as Glenn Middleton stabbed the ball home via the inside of the post.

Hibs were giving up an alarming amount of room and United worked the ball into dangerous areas on numerous occasions, but Kyle Magennis almost levelled with a stunning volley from 30 yards that rattled the bar to deprive him of a goal of the season contender.

Nisbet conjured up an equaliser out of nothing on the 25-minute mark – collecting a ball from Campbell at the edge of the box, making space for the shot and finding the bottom corner – but United restored their lead five minutes later.

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This time it was Ian Harkes who found a chasm of space and he curled an effort beyond David Marshall with the aid of a slight deflection off Lewis Stevenson.

Despite plenty possession, Hibs rarely looked like equalising. Harry McKirdy came off the bench and came close to getting his first Hibs goal as he rattled the bar from long range. In the end, Hibs and Johnson were thankful for Nisbet.



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