As four 0-0 scorelines across the Premiership at half-time proved, there were never bound to be a flurry of exhilarating matches tonight. However, for 73 minutes, Motherwell and Hibernian actually did a valiant job of defying the weather and putting on a decent show.
For the most part, this wasn’t a bad game. Hibs had the lion’s share of the ball but failed to muster a single effort on target at Fir Park, looking dangerous on the break and yet being limited to a series of dangerous balls flashed across the face of goal which they never looked like getting on the end of.
The home side were relatively comfortable throughout even if they did struggle to create meaningful chances themselves. Kevin van Veen was a nuisance if largely ineffective, missing a golden first half chance, while Jake Carroll looked solid at centre half once again.
However, Liam Donnelly’s reckless sending off ensured the game took a turn for the worse. Why he made the tackle in the first place, with Motherwell well in the game and with a 50/50 chance of grabbing a late winner, is anyone’s guess.
With Graham Alexander’s men down a man and without a manager on the touchline following his latest venture into the stands, it was only natural they should abandon all attacking intent and drop into a low block. With Hibs unable to counter and forced into finding a way through the claret and amber wall, the overall quality of the game dropped off a cliff.
The Edinburgh side probably should have scored when Christian Doidge fired over after a gust of wind left Liam Kelly in no man’s land, while debutant Demetri Mitchell showed a flash of blistering pace before being expertly halted in his tracks by Barry Maguire. Aside from that, Hibs offered frightfully little.
In fact, for the final few minutes, things were remarkably comfortable for Motherwell considering they were the side down to ten. They did everything you would expect; ran down the clock, played simple passes and drew plenty of fouls. The point will feel better to them than Hibs.
However, it’s a shame that Donnelly’s moment of madness ensured an otherwise watchable game turned relatively sour. His teammates won’t be best pleased.
Prior to that, there had been a number of promising performances across the park. Chris Cadden defied constant booing and mockery from his former supporters to put in a classy showing, with his pace, power and positive crosses giving Nathan McGinley problems all evening.
On the opposite flank, Josh Doig was equally as problematic when he got into his stride but didn’t have the end product to match his efforts. Hibs’ central midfield pairing of Joe Newell and Jake Doyle-Hayes were solid enough, but strike partners Kevin Nisbet and Chris Mueller were conspicuous by their lack of input.
Motherwell’s Norwegian rock of a defender, Sondre Solholm Johansen, once again proved his worthiness as he won header after header, tackle after tackle and made clever fouls when necessary.
Liam Kelly had an unusually quiet evening, while Sean Goss and Jordan Roberts were promising in spells.
Shaun Maloney had his side playing some lovely football out from the back, while Alexander’s high press worked well too; the mixture of these approaches made for an intriguing battle in Hibs’ third.
A special mention must go to the Hibernian TV commentators as well. There are bad commentators and there are bad commentators; these two broke the scales with their shambolic efforts. They were entertaining, at least.
Both sides can be praised for their efforts to get the ball down and play some half decent football in dreadful conditions, making sure the freezing cold fans could at least go home having witnessed an event worth paying for.
Unfortunately, Donnelly’s sending off made for a dull finale. He can only pray that Alexander doesn’t get his cold hands on him.
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