Dundee Utd 1 Hibs 3: Shaun Maloney’s winning start continues
AS far as beginnings go, Shaun Maloney’s introduction as new Hibs manager couldn’t have been much more encouraging.
This was their second win within the space of a few days under the guidance of the former Celtic and Scotland player who only last week succeeded Jack Ross.
Kevin Nisbet’s hotly-disputed 38th minute strike put them on their way to victory in this Boxing Day fixture at Tannadice before Chris Cadden, with his first goal for the Edinburgh club, rewarded their overall dominance with a further goal in 78 minutes.
Although Declan Glass celebrated a wonderful last-minute solo goal for the hosts, it was no more than a consolation as Jamie Murphy again established the visitors’ two-goal lead with the last kick of the ball.
As Hibs advance towards the New Year with renewed optimism, the same cannot be said for Dundee United whose impressive start to the campaign has since become long forgotten about with just one win in ten games.
This was Tam Courts’ side’s fifth defeat on the trot. Perhaps just as worrying, is the fact they’ve managed to score just a single goal during that sorry sequence.
For Maloney, though, it’s back-to-back wins and just the start he’d surely been hoping for since assuming the hotseat.
“I couldn’t have asked the players for any more,” reflected Maloney afterwards.
“They have been amazing. The staff have worked extremely hard since we came in.
“I’d love to take the credit for this, but it’s the staff and players.
“They’ve taken on board what we want to do. You saw today how their talent came to the fore, so they can be very happy.”
Benjamin Siegrist’s return between the stick was a considerable boost for Courts’ side. The Swiss keeper had missed the 1-0 defeat away to Rangers the previous weekend, courtesy of a covid outbreak in their ranks.
But they faced a Hibs side suitably buoyed by their 1-0 win over Aberdeen at Easter Road just a few days earlier.
This was a first away game in charge for Maloney, the ex-Belgium assistant manager, and his attacking intentions were clear from the outset.
Nisbet saw his first minute shot blocked after an assist from Josh Doig’s cross before Josh Campbell header was cleared following Martin Boyle’s cross.
But for all their first-half probing, the visitors didn’t’t look like penetrating enough to give themselves a lead going into the break.
However, that changed in 38 minutes. Nisbet was on hand to turn home Boyle’s drilled shot from close-range.
United felt it was offside with Siegrist, in particular, vociferous in his protestations. Referee Willie Collum took time to consult with his linesman, David Roome, but the goal stood.
Nisbet have a speculative effort from distance midway through the second-half which flew well over Siegrist’s bar, but it was Cadden who struck next.
Boyle assisted with an unselfish pass and former Motherwell winger Cadden did the rest by angling a right-foot shot into Siegrist’s bottom left corner.
Glass, the substitute, did give the hosts a brief glimmer of hope heading into injury-time.
The 21-year-old evaded several challenges on his way to rifling an unstoppable left-foot effort high into Matt Macey’s top corner.
Within three minutes of added on time,, though, Murphy made it 3-1 with a well-placed finish from 10-yards which was precisely what they deserved.
“I’ve not had a chance to watch back the Hibs’ first goal but from speaking to one or two people who have, they say it’s on the dubious side…said Courts afterwards.
“That’s bitterly disappointing. If we had gone in 0-0 at half-time, I felt we could have gained a bit of control in the second-half.
“But it’s difficult to do that when you go 1-0 down. The last couple of months have been difficult but we we want to have a good second half to the season.”
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