Jack Ross’s reign at Easter Road got underway in the perfect manner as Hibs came from behind to beat Motherwell 3-1 for their first home win since the opening day of the season.
Goals from frontmen Christian Doidge and Flo Kamberi turned over Liam Polworth’s opener, before substitute Daryl Horgan tucked away the third with five minutes to go.
The game threatened to take an all-too familiar turn when Motherwell took the lead on eight minutes. Jason Naismith was beaten all ends up by the exciting Jermain Hylton, whose shot hit the post, only for Polworth to anticipate a rebound which couldn’t have fallen kinder. The open goal gaping, the Scotsman made no mistake.
Hylton was the live-wire for the away team: his touches oozed a class that was often lacking from his ten teammates. He had opposite man Naismith exactly where he wanted him from the off.
The familiar narrative of trailing at home would only last twelve minutes. Kamberi – Hibs’s brightest spark – played a lovely through ball to Joe Newell, whose shot snuck under the advancing Mark Gillespie. Number nine Doidge was on hand to make sure, slotting in from three yards to put Hibs level. The battle of the tap-ins was well underway.
Just three minutes later the turnaround was complete. The busy Scott Allan played through Naismith, whose cross wasn’t quite met by Doidge. Kamberi was there to clear up the mess as he slammed home the loose ball after a couple of touches. Not quite a tap-in, but not too far off one either. All of a sudden the Green Army at Easter Road were channelling a faith not seen since Scott Allan’s 85th minute winner at home to St Mirren, way back on the 3rd of August. Paul Heckingbottom’s tenure now in the past, this was a resurgent Hibs side.
Fresh from the 4-1 win away at St Johnstone whilst managerless, Ross made no changes as his side achieved back-to-back league wins for the first time this season. On a day where the manager could do no wrong, all three of his substitutes were inspired. Horgan and Stevie Mallan combined effortlessly for the third goal, as Horgan swept the ball into the bottom right corner to the relief of the manager and fans. Substitute Martin Boyle also impressed, coming inches away from an assist in the dying minutes as Melker Hallberg failed to get a touch on his enticing cross.
Hibernian’s Kamberi and Motherwell’s Hylton stood out from the rest on the drenched turf in Leith. Their respective abilities with the ball at their feat impressed all. Scott Allan is tireless, but it is Kamberi who possesses the true flair in this Hibs side. Both Kamberi and Hylton wore long-sleeved shirts and gloves – a look reserved for those only with the utmost swagger on a football pitch. Plenty went for the short-sleeves and base-layer option on a rainy, cold afternoon in Edinburgh, but it was the gloved-up duo whose dress reflected their finesse. Neither survived the full 90 minutes, but when has that ever been a demand of players who wear long sleeves and gloves?
The Motherwell line-up included Devante Cole, son of the five-time Premier League winner and Manchester United legend Andy. On the bench was Sherwin Seedorf, ‘distant relative’ of former AC Milan magician Clarence. Minute 86 saw Seedorf thread it through to Cole but, sadly for the 15,984 in attendance, this was no link-up between legends. Cole proceeded to sky his shot well over the bar in an effort Greig Laidlaw would be proud of, though one his dad would have winced at.
After the game, Ross was keen to heap praise on his side, saying that he was ‘delighted with the result’. His excitement at the partnership developing between Doidge and Kamberi was palpable: ‘the two of them are a handful together’, he said. On Allan, Ross was only complimentary. ‘Scott’s a brilliant boy’, he said, adding that ‘he has a real thirst for football’.
This Hibs side look hungry as well as thirsty. A new-found desire may be developing. The new era is off to a good start. But then so was Heckingbottom’s.
Image: Sam Bayliss