Hibs survived a late scare from Hamilton Accies to return to winning ways, beating the Lanarkshire side 3-2 at Easter Road.
Kevin Nisbet continued his fine start to the season with a free-kick goal 19 minutes in before a brilliant header off the underside of the bar 15 minutes later. Ofir Marciano saved an Accies penalty early in the second half as Paul Hanlon got a third. Ross Callachan got one back from the spot before Porteous headed one in his own net as Accies fought back, but it wasn’t enough in the end.
Hibs came into this one looking for that winning feeling again having drawn and lost in their last two meetings against Rangers and Celtic. Accies meanwhile had COVID-19 trouble again after a positive test within the playing staff.
Goalkeeper Kyle Gourlay had a chance to make an Accies claim, making his first start in place of Ryan Fulton who was unavailable for this clash. He was called into action early on, making a good save from a Hanlon header three minutes in.
This task got extremely tough for Accies inside 20 minutes. First key defender Shaun Want was substituted with what appeared to be illness before Hibs grabbed the lead. Nisbet lined up a free-kick from the edge of the box and expertly put the ball past Gourlay.
It had been all Hibs early on and the goal was reward for their dominance. They almost buried a perfect training ground goal after 24 minutes, a great passage of play almost finished by Boyle who’s shot went narrowly wide.
Nisbet would almost put this one beyond Hamilton after the half-hour mark. Joe Newell curled a pinpoint cross into the path of the summer recruit, who headed past Gourlay with aplomb to give Jack Ross’ side cruise control going into the second half.
Brian Rice made changes at the break, bringing on Mario Ogkmpoe for Accies as he looked for attacking impetus. He got it through the influential David Templeton, who drove at Hibs’ defence and slipped in Ogkmpoe.
He was brought down in the box as the Greek striker was handed a massive chance to hand Hamilton a lifeline. Marciano was up to the task though, diving left to comfortably stop the spot-kick.
Hanlon would make them pay for that, getting on the end of a stramash in the box to head Hibs into a 3-0 lead just after the hour-mark. Gourlay was doing his best to keep the scoring down, an outstanding save from Christian Doidge’s close-range header in particular catching the eye.
Porteous would hand Hamilton another penalty, bringing down Callum Smith in the box. Callachan made no mistake this time, blasting it past Marciano to hand Hamilton a lifeline.
That turned into a fighting chance seven minutes from time, Porteous putting one past his own keeper to set up a tense finale.
Scoring would come to a halt after that as Hibs’ victory was confirmed. Accies go bottom whilst Hibs sit two points clear in third, three points off 1st. Here are three things we learned from the Easter Road battle.
Nisbet for Scotland?
That’s now six goals and two assists for Nisbet this season from eight games. People questioned whether he could make the step up from Championship side Dunfermline after a summer move.
Now the question that should be getting asked is why he’s not in the Scotland side next week. He’s one of the nation’s in-form strikers and form like this will surely see him called upon soon enough.
Hibs get it over the line
From minute one it appeared clear who would come out on top in this one. Hibs were just that bit sharper than Accies in every area, the Hibees defence winning every battle and up the opposite end they were clinical.
Two goals in the first half looked to have all but killed this as a contest and a third should have rubber-stamped it. They got over the line eventually, but allowed Hamilton back into the game after 70 minutes of dominance.
Accies show spirit
Their late renaissance attempt showed all the characteristics Hamilton thrive off. At 3-0 down this game looked finished but all it seemed to do was galvanize Rice’s men as they ran Hibs close.
A change to two up top certainly helped matter and it’ll be interesting to see whether Hamilton start with this in upcoming League Cup matches.