Young gun Galbraith raring to go after perfect cameo for Hibs

ABDESSALAM BENJELLOUN may have grabbed the winning goal and David Wotherspoon all the headlines after his man-of-the-match performance on his Easter Road debut.

But, although he enjoyed just 13 minutes of action, 18-year-old Danny Galbraith was just as satisfied with his contribution as Hibs marked new boss John Hughes' first SPL match with a victory over St Mirren.

Introduced in place of left-back Paul Hanlon as Hughes went for broke against ten-man Saints, Galbraith supplied the cross for fellow substitute Benji to apply a diving header to clinch a 2-1 win.

As important as that moment was, however, Galashiels-born Galbraith is now hoping it marks a new chapter in a career which, thus far, has been marred by injury.

Having signed for Manchester United from Hearts on his 16th birthday, Galbraith returned north to sign for Hibs, not least because of the Edinburgh club's unrivalled reputation for youth development – Hanlon and Wotherspoon being just two of eight 19-year-olds in Hughes' first team squad.

He said: "I had the chance to go other places but seeing the facilities here and knowing Hibs' reputation for giving young players a chance persuaded me this was the right place to be.

"We've all seen the players they have brought through and moved on for big money. That's the way the club works. They probably have the best youth system around and bringing so many of the Under-19 side in this summer shows they are still doing that.

"Obviously I never came through the system here but I am still the youngest in the squad."

Now Galbraith is hoping his injury worries are a thing of the past, declaring his Hibs debut couldn't have gone much better.

He said: "I've possibly only played three full games in the past 18 or 19 months as I lost almost two years through injury.

"So I was pleased in the first instance just to come on against St Mirren but delighted to play a part in setting up the winning goal, that was an added bonus.

"I had a lot of space when Derek Riordan played a short corner back to me to take a touch and whip in a cross to the near post. Luckily it fell on the head of Benji and he put it into the net."

Again, the script couldn't have been better written, the Moroccan striker making his first appearance in a green and white shirt after spending a season on loan in Belgium and then failing to return for pre-season training with his team-mates.

Galbraith believes that, with his winning goal, Benji has started to rebuild bridges with Hibs supporters. He said: "No matter what has happened, I think the fans were delighted to see him back.

"You could see how much it meant to him when he scored and I think it was a bit of relief for everyone as we wanted to put on a good show and start the season with a win."

Hibs, however, had to come from behind to do so, Saints claiming the opening goal through Stephen McGinn despite having lost Steven Thomson to a red card after just 15 minutes.

Wotherspoon equalised barely 60 seconds later but, as the minutes ticked away, the home support became ever more anxious as they saw Colin Nish hit the bar with a header and Buddies goalkeeper Paul Gallacher pull off great saves from John Rankin and Kevin McBride while Benji stabbed a close-range effort wide.

Galbraith, however, revealed how the calming influence of Hughes had paved the way to victory. He said: "We got off on the wrong foot, them going down to ten men and then scoring the first goal. But, luckily, David got that goal back right away – had they got to half-time still in the lead it might have been a different story.

"The way we responded shows the spirit and determination we have but, at half-time, the manager told us to be patient, not to panic, that we had enough time and at the end of the day we got what we deserved."

Galbraith admitted, though, that, as the minutes ticked away, he began to wonder if a winning goal was ever going to come. He said: "It's sometimes hard to play against ten men. Saints made it difficult for us and I think you could feel the fans getting a wee bit edgy.

"We got the ball from side to side but couldn't find that final pass to break them down as much as we would have liked. We were patient, we didn't just start hitting the ball long, we did what we'd been taught all pre-season, passing and passing it."

Galbraith, too, was conscious of time ebbing away as he sat on the bench desperate for Hughes to give him a taste of the action which finally came as his manager boldly restructured his side, playing two at the back and three up-front.

He said: "All you can do is get up and warm-up as many times as you can hoping to catch his eye. I was hoping he'd give me the chance to try to influence the game by getting good crosses into the box.

"Thankfully it worked out perfectly. I was delighted to play a part in the goal but more delighted for the team because we all knew how important it was to kick off the season with a win at home which gets the fans right behind you from the start."