Doidge in the goals as Hibs draw with Livi
Christian Doidge scored his first goal in 16 games as Hibs came from behind to earn at point at a bright, but chilly Tony Macaroni Arena. Graeme Sinclair reports.
Craig Sibbald opened the scoring for the Lions after a blunder by Hibs defender Ryan Porteous, before Christian Doidge equalised just before half time.
The draw sees Hibs actually strengthen their grasp on third place in the Scottish Premiership after Aberdeen’s defeat at the hands of Dundee United. Livingston remain comfortable in fifth.
Both sides came in to this one off the back of 2-1 victories in their last outing, and it showed with the team selection. Livingston were unchanged from the side that beat Hamilton last week, while Hibs made one change, with new Scotland squad member Kevin Nisbet returning to the side in place of Chris Cadden.
The early stages of this encounter were very much a case of both teams feeling each other out. Hibs continued with the back three they used at Ross County last week, with Martin Boyle slotting in at right wing-back. From the outset, both sides looked to go long – Livi passing to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Hibs going to the partnership of Doidge & Nisbet. There was plenty of endeavour and attacking intent but little in the way of quality chances. A Craig Sibbald shot from distance was the only notable effort, which Ofir Marciano saved with ease.
As the first half progressed, Livingston were finding more success with their long balls, Emmanuel-Thomas causing the experienced Hibs center backs problems. His hold up play for the oncoming Livi attackers Scott Pittman and Craig Sibbald was excellent. In the 21st minute the link between Emmanuel-Thomas & Sibbald almost paid off, when Emmanuel-Thomas played through Sibbald on the left of the box, but his powerful left footed strike was well saved by Marciano.
Livi were on top and got the breakthrough they deserved in the 28th minute. Another long ball forward, this one by Jon Guthrie, went over the Hibs defence. Ryan Porteous mistimed his header, completely scuffing it as it came out of the air. The lively Sibbald pounced, prodding past Marciano from close range.
The visitors almost responded instantly. A Martin Boyle cross fell to Jackson Irvine, who worked it to Joe Newell, but with the full goal to aim at, Newell fired tamely towards Robbie McCrorie, with the keeper collecting easily.
It wasn’t much longer before Hibs did find an equaliser though, and again it was through a defensive mistake. Nicky Devlin looked to see a through ball out for a goal kick, but plucky teenager Josh Doig snuck in behind and played a pass back to Christian Doidge. Doidge, in acres of space, slotted into the net, although McCrorie did manage to get a hand to the effort.
After the break, Hibs dominated proceedings. Boyle, who had a quiet first half, was able to provide a much bigger threat down the right-hand side. Hibs were pushing the Livingston defence closer to their goal and had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 55th minute.
A long ball up from Porteous to Nisbet was flicked wide to Boyle. Boyle advanced into the box and pulled it back for Doidge to shoot from point blank range, only for Nicky Devlin to block the attempt on the line. The ball bounced back to Boyle who had a dig himself, but this time Jackson Longridge made the crucial intervention.
That was really the story of the entire half, Hibs pushing forward, and Livingston putting their bodies on the line to stop Hibs from scoring a second. Hibs weren’t able to create any clear-cut opening for the rest of the match, although Nisbet almost managed a terrific solo goal. His tame shot trickled just past the post.
As for Livingston, they were limited to a couple of Jon Guthrie headers from free kicks, but both were easy saves for Marciano.
Ultimately, both sides seemed content with a point, and the last ten minutes frittered out without any meaningful chances. So, a point for both sides it was.
After the match, Hibs manager Jack Ross said: “I was pleased with how we played, and then given results it’s another step forward for us towards achieving our goal.”
On Christian Doidge breaking his goal drought he said,: “I’m delighted for him; it doesn’t bother me that he’s not been scoring because I think his play’s been good, but yeah it’s great for him because I think he deserved it.”
Livingston boss David Martindale said: “I thought we were far better in the first half, and a thought the chances we created we’ve got to do a lot better with. But again, we’ve given a really sloppy goal away. We’ve just got to clear our lines.”
It’s Scottish Cup action for both sides after the international break – Livingston are set to welcome either Stirling Albion or Raith Rovers to Almondvale, while Hibernian are set to play away to Queen of the South.