Lewis Stevenson insists point could prove vital in Hibs’ quest to land European berth

It often depends on perspective. Some will look at results over the weekend and register that Hibernian passed up the opportunity to move up the league standings and close in on the clubs leading the race for a European slot.

Hibs’ Stephen McGinn and Livingston’s Steven Lawless. Picture: SNS
Hibs’ Stephen McGinn and Livingston’s Steven Lawless. Picture: SNS

Instead, having missed a penalty for the second time in three games, they remain stuck, like opponents Livingston, betwixt and between, in the dual battle for a Europa League place and the ongoing tussle to ensure they are in the top-six come the split. Such is the log-jam in the middle of the Premiership.

Nothing is straightforward but while Lions boss Gary Holt refuses to publicly dwell on targets, Easter Road gaffer Jack Ross has made it clear that he and his men are now looking towards Europe. In that regard, they moved one point closer to shaking off Kilmarnock’s quest to deny them a top-six place and also edged one point closer to Aberdeen, while losing no ground on any of the others aroundabout them.

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For Lewis Stevenson, that was a positive as he pondered whether, come the season sign off, the point they earned in Saturday’s 1-1 stalemate ends up being a vital one.

The 32-year-old was a 
surprise starter, having been set for a place on the bench before Joe Newell pulled up in the warm-up.

“It was about five minutes before we were due to go back in. It was a bit of a shock to the system.

“Joe’s ankle was bothering him from last week and he thought he’d be ok but he’s hurt it. You’re supposed to be ready to be called upon at all times but you never think that’s going to happen. I was doing keepy uppies but I should be experienced enough to expect the unexpected.”

He still came in and played his part, helping orchestrate the home side’s opener,
swinging in the ball from the left which found Greg Docherty in space and he then played it back into the box for Christian Doidge to flick past Robby McCrorie.

That was in the 50th minute. But Hibs should have taken the lead midway through the first half when Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was penalised for a handball. But he was relieved to see Scott Allan’s spot-kick saved.

“I was disappointed the ref gave the penalty, but he said my arm was in an unnatural position,” Taylor-Sinclair said. “I felt I was hard done by. [Martin] Boyle was only about five yards away from me. I can’t chop off my arm and that’s the only way it was going to get past. But it was a great save.”

He played a role in his own redemption as well, though, scoring the equaliser for Livingston just five minutes after Doidge’s 17th goal of the term. Timing his arrival at the back post well, the 28-year-old got on the end of Steven Lawless’ delivery and diverted it past Ofir Marciano.

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In a game where neither side completely clicked and reached full potential, there were limited clear-cut chances to provide a winner, 
leaving them to settle for a share of the spoils and pluck positives from the day.

“We didn’t play well but maybe a point’s not the worst result,” said Stevenson, who, along with his team-mates, will now turn his attentions to beating Inverness in the Scottish Cup, on Friday. “We’ve still got an unbeaten run going.”