Hibs and Livingston played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Easter Road this afternoon as both sides looked to solidify their positions in the top six with the split getting closer and closer.
There was a Livi debut for Efe Ambrose against his former side while Hibs made an enforced change in the warm-up with Lewis Stevenson replacing Joe Newell.
It was the visitors who had the first real chance of the afternoon as the Hibees struggled to clear their lines after a Livingston corner and Craig Sibbald watched as his strike from the edge of the area went close.
There wasn’t a huge amount to separate the two sides in the opening ten minutes but Livingston keeper Robby McCrorie had to look sharp when fellow Rangers loanee Greg Docherty sent a low strike at goal, sending McCrorie scrambling to keep it out.
The chances were coming for both sides and Martin Boyle almost carved out the opener for the hosts as his teasing cross looked set to be tapped in by Doidge, before Guthrie intervened at the last moment and cleared.
With 21 minutes played, referee Alan Newlands was left with no option but to award Hibs a spot-kick after the ball was handled in the box but young Livi keeper Robby McCrorie done fantastically well to keep out Allan’s penalty with a dive low to his right.
Hibs were really starting to take control of the game and pose real problems for the Livi defence but the Livi defence remained firm, snuffing out the threat posed by the free-scoring Doidge and McNulty.
As the sleet and wind that engulfed Easter Road at kick-off cleared up, there was suddenly a game on our hands as Gary Holt’s side started to get forward and find holes in the Hibs defence – Robby McCrorie remained the busier of the two keepers but Livingston were looking much more adventurous than they had ten minutes earlier.
Despite having had a relatively quiet afternoon so far, Ofir Marciano had to be at his very best on the half-hour mark when Stevie Lawson’s Exocet whistled over his crossbar from 30 yards moments before Livi has a decent shout for a penalty but Alan Newlands saw nothing in it.
As the break closed in there was a real feeling of frustration around Easter Road as the Hibees struggled to show anything for their early dominance, and always threatening to hand Livi something out of nothing through their own slackness.
As it was, both sides went in level at the break with neither really having much to complain about after the opening 45.
The second 45 was only just underway when there was a stoppage for Hibs skipper Paul Hanlon to get treatment after a late tackle from McMillan, which earned the Livi man a booking.
Once the game restarted, the hosts were immediately on the front foot and finally grabbed the lead as Christian Doidge turned home Greg Docherty’s cross from close-range.
Hibs had several chances to get themselves in front but it eventually fell kindly for Doidge who clipped the ball beyond McCrorie and into the net.
— Hibernian FC (@HibernianFC) February 22, 2020
The lead didn’t last long though as Livi pulled themselves levels within a matter of minutes as the Hibs defence fell asleep, gifting acres of space to the Livingston forwards as Aaron Taylor-Sinclair ghosted in at the back post and fired beyond Marciano to send the small band of travelling fans wild.
Jack Ross’ side should have done far better dealing with the threat posed by the Lions on the counter so soon after falling behind to Doidge’s well-taken strike.
Nobody was alive to Lawless’ run on to Dykes’ flick on and it allowed the Livi stars all the time in the world ro equalise and silence the home support.
55 – GOOOOOOAAALLLLLL! TAYLOR-SINCLAIR!!!!! pic.twitter.com/BiQLdQ8URg
— Livingston FC (@LiviFCOfficial) February 22, 2020
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, it was Livi who were in the ascendancy, moving the ball around well and allowing Hibs to have plenty of possession of their own without ever threatening.
That looked to suit Livi down to the ground as the visitors simply invited Hibs to try break them down, with little success for the hosts.
Livi had a fantastic chance to put themselves in front with less than ten minutes remaining after a lovely bit of control from Lawless allowed him to drive into the box but Pittman couldn’t keep his effort down and it went over the bar.
As the seconds ticked away, Hibs threw everything forward in search of a late, late winner and it very almost came through Boyle but McCrorie managed to do just enough to stop him and earn his side a deserved point.
Hibs: Marciano, Hanlon, McGinn, Slivka (Gullan 71′), Doidge, Boyle, Stevenson (Horgan80′), McNulty, Docherty, Jackson, Allan (Murray 62′)
Subs not used: Bogdan, Hallberg , McGregor, Omeonga,
Livingston: McCrorie, Brown, Lawson, Pittman, Dykes (Souda 76′), Sibbald, Lawless (Robinson 85′), McMillan (Jacobs 71′), Ambrose, Guthrie, Taylor-Sinclair
Subs not used: Crawford, Lamie, Menga, Schofield