Nisbet nets as humdrum Hibs survive Cove scare

Despite a brave performance from Cove Rangers, Kevin Nisbet’s strike in extra time ensured Hibernian’s passage into the next round of the Scottish Cup. Angus McGregor reports.

Cove limited Hibs to very little and can walk away from Easter Road with their heads held high.
(Photo Credit – Angus McGregor)

Kevin Nisbet made all the difference as Hibernian saw off Cove Rangers after extra time in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup. The Scotland international’s late effort put Hibs into the next round despite a heroic showing from the League One side at Easter Road.

The home side made five changes following Monday night’s 2-0 loss away at Celtic. Rocky Bushiri, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Drey Wright, Kevin Nisbet and Martin Boyle, rumoured to be departing the club, dropped out. Lewis Stevenson, Melker Hallberg, Christian Doidge, and debutants Ewan Henderson and Chris Mueller were drafted into the starting 11.

The visitors made four changes with top scorer Rory McAllister dropping to the bench. Shay Logan, Iain Vigurs and Stuart MacKenzie also made way, with Paul Hartley opting for Kyle Gourlay, Jamie Masson, Leighton McIntosh, and Connor Scully instead. New signing Mark Reynolds would make the bench.

The game offered very few chances early on, with both sides failing to break into the final third. The best chance within the opening exchanges was when Matt Macey’s clearance was blocked by Mitch Megginson, with the ball going wide to spare the keeper’s blushes.

The first real chance of the game fell to the home side, with the debuting Mueller almost capitalising on Harry Milne’s mishit clearance. The American did great to cut in, but his effort was too close to Gourlay, who held well.

Morgyn Neill had a half chance from a corner kick, with his volley held by Macey as groans of discontent became audible from the home support. Hibs really should have gone ahead on the 26th minute mark, with Doidge’s header going agonisingly close following a great cross from Henderson.

The Welshman again went close with an acrobatic effort, but his effort was yet again down the throat of Gourlay in the Cove goal. Josh Doig also went close, with his effort looking like it was tipped over, although only a goal kick was given.

The second half saw Hibs retreat, with Cove offering more in the early stages. Hibs really struggled to get their midfield on the ball, with Mueller and Josh Campbell ending up too high, allowing the away side to counter. Cove were unlucky to not go ahead as Masson had a great chance saved by Macey before Megginson’s follow up was blocked.

The second half had very little else of interest to report on, with Hibs controlling possession without doing an awful lot with it. Masson had another great opportunity on a counter-attack but rushed his effort which was easily gathered.

Hibs would put the pressure on, but Gourlay was brought into no further saves with his defence heroically clearing anything that came into the Cove box. The full-time whistle came as boos rung around Easter Road with extra time awaiting.

Hibs improved in extra time, offering a lot more in an attacking sense as their opponents faded. Doig and substitute Nisbet would go close, but both strikes narrowly went past the post.

The home side would eventually make the breakthrough as Nisbet tapped in from close range. Some good link up play from Jamie Murphy and Doig saw the ball cut back for the Scotland international to make no mistake. The goal knocked the stuffing out of the visitors who had tirelessly given their all throughout the 120 minutes.

It wasn’t meant to be, but Paul Hartley’s side certainly proved that they are deserving of the credit they’ve received in recent years. Relief was the main feeling around Easter Road as Hibs were far from convincing in their performance, but fans can now look forward to finding out their opponents in the next round of the Scottish Cup.

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