Poor First Half Proves Costly

Rangers 2 Hibs 3

A tremendous second half fight back just failed to salvage a point in today’s top of the table clash at Murray Park. In contrast the first half performance was disappointing and that is what ultimately cost the youths pole  position in the league race.

Straight from the kick off Hibs had a clear chance when Kurtis Byrne found himself clear inside the box but shot weakly and Arturs Vailculis save comfortably. We had to wait until the 18th minute before there was any further notable action when a sweeping move saw Kane Hemmings play a one-two with Stephen Stirling as Hemmings advanced into the box, Thomas Flynn saved bravely at the strikers feet.

A minute later good play down the left by Calum Booth saw his cross scrambled clear by the Rangers defence. Hibs then had a half chance when a deep corner from the right broke to Byrne in the box and his shot was deflected wide.

On the half hour mark Hibs struck with two goals in two minutes. First a great piece of skill by Kurtis Byrne on the right saw him skip past Gregg Wylde, his low cross went right across goal to be returned into the six yard box by Calum Booth,  finding David Wotherspoon unmarked to net from close range. Next a neat passing move on the left involving Booth and Wotherspoon saw Oliver Russell released inside the box to make it 2-0.

Hibs remained in control for the remainder of the first half without looking like adding to their lead, with Rangers struggling  Billy Kirkwood had a bit work to do during the break to try and get his side back into the game.

Half-Time:- Rangers 0 Hibs 2

The start of the second half saw a different Rangers side and straight from the kick off the almost scored. Great inter play between Stephen Stirling and Jamie Ness  released Kal Naismith inside the box, his shot was blocked by keeper Flynn and cleared by the Hibs defence. A minute later the ball was played to Archie Campbell at the edge of the box, his lay back was powerfully struck by Kyle Hutton and was tipped over by Flynn for a corner.

Flynn then did well under pressure at a couple of Kal Naismith corners, punching clear under pressure. Rangers then suffered a killer blow on 52 minutes when Hibs went three up with their first attack of the second half.  Patrick Deane worked his way to the byline on the right, his low ball across the six yard box was converted by David Wotherspoon for his second of the game.

After 64 minutes Hibs missed a great chance to score a fourth, Kyle Hutton lost the ball in midfield, Sean Welsh advanced in to box to be denied by Vailculis with a brave save. A minute later Rangers pulled a goal back, a fantastic bit of skill by Kal Naismith saw him skin Booth on the right, as he made his way into the box he was brought down by Scott Smith for a clear penalty, he picked himself up and converted from the spot.

Ten minutes later Rangers were right back in the match, great play down the left by Gregg Wylde and a perfect low cross between keeper and defence saw Archie Campbell score at the back post. At this point Scott Smith who had earlier been booked at the penalty, picked up a stupid if slightly harsh second yellow card, for preventing the ball being returned to the halfway line for kick-off.

Rangers were now pushing for an equaliser and Jamie Ness headed narrowly over from a free kick. With 5 minutes remaining Gregg Wylde saw a long range effort flash past Flynn’s right hand post. Then in the final minute Rangers had a great chance to salvage a point. Naismith’s corner from the right was headed goalwards and was handled on the line by former Ranger Ally Park. A clear penalty and the referee had no option but to show the Hibs full back a red card. Up stepped Kal Naismith only to fire his spot kick high and wide of Flynn’s right hand post.

So its advantage Hibs with a 2 point lead with five games remaining, but with an Old Firm tie and two Edinburgh derbies to come (Hearts have an outside chance), the league race could go right down to the wire.

Rangers Lineup:- Arturs Vailculis; Darren Cole (Max Wright 84mins), Ross Perry, Danny Wilson, Gregg Wylde; Kyle Hutton, Stephen Stirling (Dylan McGeough 57mins), Jamie Ness, Kal Naismith; Archie Campbell, Kane Hemmings (Steven Forbes 57mins).

Not Used:- Grant Adam, Scott Durie, Rhys McCabe.

Hibs Lineup:- Thomas Flynn; Ally Park, Ewan Moyes, Scott Smith, Calum Booth; Kurtis Byrne (Darren Kelly 90mins), Olver Russell, Sean Welsh, Lee Currie, David Wotherspoon; Patrick Deane (Fergus Bell).

Not Used:- Lewis Graham, Scott Taggart, Keith Murray, David Crawford.

Remaining Fixtures

Rangers

Celtic (H), Inverness CT (A), Falkirk (H), Motherwell (A), Aberdeen (H)

Hibs

Kilmarnock (H), Hearts (A), St.Mirren (H), Hearts (H), Motherwell (A)

Hearts

Dundee Utd (H), Aberdeen (A), Hibs (H), Kilmarnock (A), Hibs (A), Inverness CT (A), Falkirk (H)

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