Pat Fenlon’s Hibs went down 1-0 to Belgian club Oud-Herverlee Leuven last night in their second match of their pre-season tour.
There was a new face in the squad with the arrival of Scotland under 21 Leigh Griffiths who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers until at least January. Griffiths scored 11 goals for his boyhood idols last season to become a favourite amongst the Hibs faithful, and the news that he has returned has been welcomed on the various fan’s forums.
Griffiths’ last game in the green and white was the cup final and afterwards he left saying that his immediate future would be in the Midlands, however Wolves new Norwegian manager Stalle Solbakken has told him that he won’t feature in the first team, leaving the field open for Pat Fenlon to swoop.
Griffiths started on the bench as Hibs lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with youngster Ross Caldwell on his own up front. There was no sign of captain James McPake, and Paul Hanlon partnered David Stephens in the centre of the defence. Republic of Ireland full back Alan Maybury who is still on trial, started in central midfield, with youngster Calum Booth regaining his left back spot.
OH Leuven started brightly and former Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Williams pulled off a good save after 15 minutes to keep the scores level.
Both David Wotherspoon and Alan Maybury had shots saved as the first half ended without any goals.
Ivan Sproule, who had been booked, had a powerful shot saved by Logan Bailly in the OH Leuven goal after some good build up work by Caldwell.
After 60 minutes, Griffiths replaced Sproule to a warm reception from the travelling Hibs supporters who were enjoying themselves in the town where Stella Artois is brewed.
The Scotland under 21 international had an immediate impact with some fine play, setting up Wotherspoon whose full bloodied volley was well saved by Bailly.
Jorge Claros replaced Maybury with twenty minutes remaining as both sides looked for a winner. Two minutes later, the Jupiler League side took the lead through a decisive strike from their Gambian striker Ibou.
Paul Cairney replaced Caldwell and Danny Handling came on for Lewis Stevenson as Hibs chased an equaliser, and despite some decent chances late on, the game ended with no further scoring.
After the game Pat Fenlon said: “I don’t think there is any problem with Leigh’s temperament — it’s the stupidity we need to work on.
“But he is a young boy and you don’t want choirboys, you want a bit of devilment. We just have to channel it in the right way.”
The players will have no time to rest as they play a Zeeland select today with a 14.30 kick off, and a match report will appear in The Edinburgh Reporter after the final whistle.