Jim Leighton, Andy Goram, Alan Rough, Conrad Logan. These are just some of the Hibs goalkeepers who have made big impressions at Easter Road.
In terms of quality, Ofir Marciano is right up there with the best of them in modern times. The Israeli has been a wall for the most part in Leith, making over 100 appearances since his permanent move from FC Ashod in 2017 after a loan spell during the 16/17 campaign.
Big performances in the big games have been what fans have come to expect from Marciano. It was no different away to Motherwell at the weekend as the Israelite pulled out all the stops to earn a point.
The game finished 0-0 and it was partly down to the work of Marciano. His commanding of the box was good and handling was on point, but the reflex saves were what really caught the eye.
First came a block from a Jake Carroll free kick. A few more smart stops were made in the first half before the second rolled into action. One of his first involvements was clearing danger in the box with a punch before the defence prevented Liam Donnelly’s effort hitting the net.
It looked set for 0-0 before Well striker Christy Manzinga was left wondering how he hadn’t made it 1-0. Somehow, Marciano managed to flick his top corner-bound shot onto the bar as Hibs gained a point. It was a save Fir Park boss Stephen Robinson described as ‘incredible.’
What made this more spectacular was it’d actually deflected off Adam Jackson, doubling the saving diffuclty. But Marciano answered the call to arms.
A block with his legs to deny Mikael Ndjoli was one final act as Marciano didn’t allow the Well to find a route to goal.
Ross knows his strengths
It was a breathtaking performance and of course Hibs manager Jack Ross was aware of it. He’d just watched his keeper pull off numerous stops to keep the Steelmen at bay as Hibs pushed for a winner.
Chris Maxwell had been the Hibees number one for a spell this season. Ross, however, reinstated the Israel international as the main man between the sticks. It was a show of faith and Marciano’s repaying him.
“Ofir has not had a huge saves to make in recent weeks,” said Ross. “So the pleasing thing for us that we got a tangible reward with a clean sheet. There have been games where he has not had a save to make but that’s arguably his biggest strength, his shot-stopping.
“It was an important one so late in the game. His shot-stopping ability and reaction stuff is really, really good. It’s an important trait to have as a goalkeeper as it can win you points and win you games.
“He’d made some big saves in our earlier matches. I see him making them all the time in training.”
Boosting Jackson’s confidence
Playing in front of the Israeli wall, Jackson has witnessed first-hand the brilliance of Marciano. It’s a reassurance and a luxury to be able to play with a bit more swagger.
This is largely down to Marciano’s reliability. If a shot is struck towards the Hibs goal, there’s a good chance Marciano is saving it. He’s kept every single clean sheet Hibs have got in the league this term.
Jackson made Marciano’s showpiece Lanarkshire save much more difficult to pull off and the English defender isn’t short of praise for his Leith teammate.
“It took a deflection off me which made it even better as it was heading for the top corner,” said Jackson. “We try not to allow shots to get in, but it makes you feel so much more confident when you know you’ve got a keeper who can pull off saves like that.
“It means you can go and play aggressive and play high up. But Scotland will be hoping he doesn’t pull off many of them at Hampden in March.”
He’s a big favourite in Leith and Marciano is continuing to pull out all the stops, quite literally, for his side.