In the end it was probably a fair result. We were on top for an hour or so but only created a few decent chances. Hibs then dominated the rest of the game but, like us, couldn't make it count. Aside from failing to grab a corner Marian Kello wasn't unduly troubled and the same could be said for visiting goalie Ben Williams. It's easy to see why Hibs are struggling for goals at the moment and while this might not look like a great result on paper, everything was set for us to mess up against a side on a high and looking to impress their new manager.
There were many suggestions for who would come in to replace the ghostly Jim Goodwin, starting a spooky suspension, but it's fair to say few people reckoned David van Zanten would take his place. With Jason Naismith continuing at rightback and Conor Newton wide right it looked like a straight swap. The rest of the team was the same as it was last week, with Vanzy's place on the bench taking by teenager Jordan Stewart. That meant the continuing absence of Stephane Bahoken, which will surely only crank up the rumour mill about his future another notch. Surprisingly, Terry Butcher dropped James Collins for his first game in charge of the Hibees, with Danny Handling partnering Paul Heffernan instead. James McPake was also absent, with Liam Craig and Paul Cairney taking over from Tom Taiwo and Kevin Thomson in midfield.
Hibs were always going to come flying out of the traps but we should have silenced their big support within a few minutes - Kenny McLean's short pass to Paul McGowan seeing the playmarker play it through for Steven Thompson, but he somehow completely missed the target with just Ben Williams to beat. After Heffernan hurt himself while trying to take a shot he was subbed in less than five minutes, the benched Collins taking his place. McGowan at least tested Williams with our next chance, but he could only shoot straight at the keeper after collecting Kelly's cross. The visitors had been throwing themselves about a bit, probably because Butcher had told them to, and it took a few challenges before someone was finally booked. Even then Jordon Forster was lucky he wasn't showing a straight red for a bad tackle on John McGinn.
We'd looked the better side in the first 20 minutes or so - when our players weren't being crippled - but Hibs finally began to threaten - Marian Kello saving Collins' header before we survived a penalty shout when McGregor tackled the forward. With the sun shining straight at me it was hard to say one way or the other, but it definitely fell into the "seen them given" category - although people on the other side of the ground said it was a blatant dive! A terrific run from Naismith saw him get Ryan McGivern all tied up in knots before he played a great cross that found no one when a touch could well have given us the lead. So too could McGregor's header from a corner, but Alan Maybury was in the right place to knock it away.
We had comfortably been on top in the first half but hadn't taken advantage of that and you always feared we'd be made to pay for it. Hibs did look a bit livelier when hostilities resumed but not enough to worry us, Kello confidently claiming a few crosses while Thompson headed wide from a McLean corner - although he was always struggling to get it on target. After Conor Newton and McGowan had tried to flick the ball on with their head it sat up nicely for Naismith and he rattled a shot a few yards wide. Paul Cairney, who was apparently a youth player with us once, hadn't done a great amount so it was a shame when Butcher decided to put Tom Taiwo on in his place.
Thompson should perhaps have done better than shoot straight at Williams after he had been played through before Hibs, out of nowhere, upped the tempo. How they didn't score after a stramash at a corner I'll never know and suddenly Kello wasn't looking quite so confident when balls came into the box. We were really struggling, Kello saving Liam Craig's header before Paul Hanlon headed wide. The large away support could smell a goal and Newton was moved into the holding role, with the lesser spotted Jake Caprice replacing Vanzy with a little over 10 minutes left.
After Scott Robertson headed over at a corner Hibs made their final chance as Handling was replaced by Ross Caldwell. We'd barely done anything meaningful in the Hibs half since Taiwo came on but McGinn set up a chance for McGowan, only for him to shoot pretty much straight at Williams. Taiwo was then booked for stopping a McGowan run prematurely. We won a corner from the free-kick that Naismith headed over and McGinn had a half chance to win it late on but his shot was always going wide.
A point apiece. Not the best result, but not the worst either. And we're now unbeaten in four. Fair to say it's not the most awful Saturday we've had this season.
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