Hibs 2 - 1 Motherwell: Florian Kamberi nets on Hibs debut

Florian Kamberi nets the opener on his Hibs debut. Picture: SNS
Florian Kamberi nets the opener on his Hibs debut. Picture: SNS
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As Hibernian have sought to offload one striker after another in the January transfer window, the question was whether they could bring in a replacement capable of addressing the deficiencies that have dogged them in that department this season.

A positive return to the top flight, it could have been even better if they had been able to rely on a more clinical frontline. It was something their manager Neil Lennon had been desperate to address.

Some have come and gone without making their mark, and in a bid to prevent a repeat of that, the Hibs gaffer had run a careful eye over his latest acquisition. He decided he liked what he saw.

Weighing in with the opener last night. Florian Kamberi provided the capital club with a focal point, spearheading the attack with determination, clever movement and wherewithal. He also linked up well with both Brandon Barker and Martin Boyle, who seemed energised by the Swiss striker’s presence.

The crowd got a lift, too, applauding the 22-year-old, who has joined on loan from Grasshoppers, up the tunnel at half-time, his impact already evident on the scoreboard.

The opening goal came in the 29th minute and it was John McGinn who rattled the Motherwell rearguard with a cross cum shot but although Charles Dunne reacted, he only succeeded in clearing the danger as far as the Easter Road debutant, who gleefully skelped his effort in off the underside of the bar to give Hibs the advantage they had been looking for.

Before the match Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson had questioned the wisdom of scheduling fixtures for transfer deadline day and as he and his opposite number attempted to focus on gaining three points, it was left to club officials, working away behind the scenes, to put the finishing touches to deals.

The latest bout of plate spinning saw Hibernian part company with yet another of their strikers, as Simon Murray was bartered as part of the three way deal that saw Scott Bain move over to Celtic, Murray complete the switch to Dundee and Scott Allan head back to Leith.

The club had also acted swiftly to bring in goalkeeping cover as Cammy Bell was spotted at the ground and, with Allan also in the bowels of the stadium, it all could have proved a major distraction had matters on the pitch not been so compelling.

Maybe it was simply an understanding that new faces will be coming in determined to usurp them in the starting line up, but both teams showed real zest as they battled throughout the early stages to gain control.

The visitors look dangerous from the outset and Liam Grimshaw took the play to the hosts, darting infield and then slipping a pass in front of Curtis Main. But the striker couldn’t conjure up a final effort capable of troubling Ofir Marciano.

At that stage, Hibs were looking a threat on the counterattack, with the pace on their flanks a major asset. A poor Motherwell freekick allowed Barker to break and that foray ended with Kamberi almost scoring but he was denied by Cedric Kipre’s lunging goalline clearance.

From the resultant corner, Paul Hanlon headed an effort off the post from a tight angle. But Hibs were applying the pressure and the new striker was hungry.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, with Main in particular a bright presence in the Motherwell attack. He found himself in space out on the right flank and while Hanlon was across to jockey until Lewis Stevenson got back the forward still found enough space to blast a shot from distance but it zipped wide.

Kamberi had another stab at grabbing his opener in the 23rd minute but found the stand but he was not to be denied and eventually made the breakthrough in the 29th minute.

Two minutes into the second half and Barker made things more comfortable for the home side. It was a ball whipped into the box by Boyle and Barker almost burst the net from a central position. For a long spell after that goal, Hibs looked at ease. But Motherwell rarely give up and gradually gained leverage.

In the 78th minute sub Chris Cadden had an effort saved low by Marciano but a moment later it was Main who was rifling a low angled drive past the Hibs keeper to narrow the gap and give them something to chase in the final 12 minutes.

In stoppage time it took a save from Marciano to prevent Main nabbing the equaliser, tipping his shot over the bar and while there was a set piece to see out, Hibs had the bit between their teeth and defending like dervishes, saw out the game.

HIBERNIAN: Marciano, Ambrose, McGregor (Rherras 58), Hanlon, Stevenson, Boyle, McGeough,Slivka (Bartley 46), McGinn, Barker (Porteous 79), Kamberi. Unused subs: Dabrowski, Swanson, MacLaren, Shaw.

MOTHERWELL: Carson, Kipre, Aldred, Dunne, Grimshaw (Cadden 61), Campbell, Rose (Bigirimana 61),Tait, McHugh (Ciftci 75), Tanner, Main. Unused subs: Griffiths, Hendrie, Hartley, Petravicius.