Ryan Porteous takes centre stage for Sauzee-inspired Hibs as goal and red card flashpoint seal win over Motherwell
As one Easter Road banner boldly proclaimed “Le God returns”, Sauzee showed a deftness of language as quick as his feet when he took the Easter Road crowd into the palm of his hands; his succinct “come on the Hibees” was the only message they really wanted to hear.
Some of the magic from his presence around Leith – eventually – seemed to rub off. Ryan Porteous, the current Hibs man-of-the-moment, found himself in the midst of another red-card incident as Connor Shields was dismissed for hauling him down in the second period. He then netted a header that may not have had the same elegance of anything that Sauzee in his Hibs pomp might have offered but delivered a welcome three points – a universally pleasing return regardless of era or generation.
How Hibs pined for someone of the elegant Frenchman’s ilk in a frantic opening period that begged for a little composure to be added to the mix. There was no shortage of endeavour from either side and both boasted a credible commitment to attack but there were points in the game when the ball seemed simply to ping in the air between both teams.
The game itself had started with some promise. Motherwell’s Sean Goss had steered an effort just wide of David Marshall’s post as the Fir Park side looked to harness the energy that brought forth their midweek rampaging 5-0 win over Ross County while Hibs were not without their chances.
Josh Campbell showed some composure to slip Elie Youan through but Sondre Solholm Johansen was alert to the danger to offer some defensive cover. Marijan Cabraja probably had the pick of the bunch in terms of first-half chances for Hibs when he collected at the back post but his decision making was askew as he cut the ball back instead of taking a shot of his own. Matt Penny was able to block Chris Cadden’s effort and the chance was lost.
Paul Hanlon took a yellow card on the chin after opting to haul down Joe Efford after he had eased his way through the Hibs with midfield with alarming ease. The resultant free-kick was ineffective as was one at the opposite end which Ryan Porteous directed straight into the arms of Liam Kelly.
Porteous’ involvement gave him a starring role once more just on the cusp of the hour mark. Yanked back by Shields as he advanced deep into Motherwell’s half, Porteous hit the deck and the Motherwell man hit an early shower to give Hibs an increasingly familiar ten-man opposition to try and find a way past.
The numerical advantage yielded a goal with Porteous claiming the credit. Martin Boyle’s cross was deflected with Porteous and Johansen challenging for it. Both ended up on the deck after clashing heads but it was the Hibs defender who would have felt the hit was worth it as the ball eluded Kelly and ended up in the back of the net.
It might have got better for Hibs. Mykola Kuharevich was denied a second by a linesman’s flag but ultimately it did not matter. The win takes Hibs up to third in the cinch Premiership – at least until Aberdeen play at Tannadice later this evening. All in all a satisfying afternoon to mark the return of a favoured son.
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