On loan signing Danny Haynes opened his Hibs’ goal-scoring account yesterday to secure a share of the points against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park in a game that the Easter Road side dominated throughout.
Terry Butcher stuck with the same starting XI that beat Ross County last Saturday even though Liam Craig was available for selection after a one match suspension and the skipper had to settle for a place on the bench.
On loan winger Duncan Watmore failed a late fitness test joined Scott Robertson, Kevin Thomson, James McPake and Owain Tudur Jones on the injury list.
Hibs started brightly and Tom Taiwo, Alex Harris and Paul Hanlon had opportunities before Kilmarnock took an undeserved lead when Kris Boyd sent a terrific through ball to Rory McKenzie who hammered a fine right foot shot past Ben Williams into the far corner of the net.
Danny Handling tested goalkeeper Craig Samson with a well struck shot as Hibs looked for an equaliser before the break.
Hibs again started the second half brightly with striker Haynes then Taiwo both going close before Haynes opened his account with a well taken header from a excellent Sam Stanton cross.
Stanton then went close with a 20 yard free-kick which shaved the post then Taiwo brought a fine save from Samson.
Hibs looked the more likely to break the deadlock and Haynes almost secured the points only for Manuel Pascali to block his close range shot although Williams did well to save at the feet of McKenzie.
In time added on, Hibs won a series of corner kicks and Jordon Forster went close but his shot was blocked by Boyd as Killie held on to claim a point.
After the game Terry Butcher said: “I’m disappointed that we didn’t win the game, particularly after the way we dominated the second half. Unfortunately, there was a lack of real goalscoring opportunities due to our final ball so there will be plenty of crossing and shooting for the boys next week.
“We lost a goal against the run of play in the first half and Hibs, in the past, would have wobbled and resorted to a long-ball game after that. However, we passed it well and the central midfielders, Sam Stanton and Tom Taiwo, were excellent. They gave us the platform to launch attack after attack but we weren’t getting quality balls into the box.
“We didn’t test Craig Samson in their goal. He hardly had a thing to do, when you look at it. We weren’t ruthless enough in the final third and this was a chance which went begging for us. I think we should have won this and gone above St Johnstone. But we’ve played worse than this and won and if we keep showing that passion and determination we’ll be fine.”
With St Johnstone losing to Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Hibs are now level on points with the Perth side in the rave for the top six spot.
Kilmarnock: Samson, O’Hara, Ashcroft, Pascali, Tesselaar, Slater, Clingan, McKenzie, Eremenko (Gardyne 65′), Muirhead (Kiltie 46′), Boyd. Substitutes not used: Maksimenko, Irvine, Nicholson, Johnston, Reguero.
Hibernian: Williams, Forster, Nelson, Hanlon, McGivern, Harris, Taiwo, Stanton, Stevenson (Cairney 76′), Handling (Craig 69′), Haynes (Collins 86′).Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Boateng, Maybury, Heffernan.
Referee: Craig Thomson.
Photo by John Preece