“Hibs…Hibs are falling apart, again,” rejoiced a goading Kilmarnock support as they lorded it over their Easter Road counterparts on the hour mark of this game. By the time the whistle blew their gas had been put to a considerable peep. And then some.
Come full-time they had closed the game out with ten men and saw three points disintegrated to one.
VAR offered up yet more controversy as Corrie Ndaba’s yellow was upgraded to a red for a foul on Jair Tavares which looked incredibly harsh – while a beautiful Joe Newell volley and Myziane Maolida cancelled out a Dylan vente own-goal and a Matty Kennedy strike as Hibs took a point back to Leith.
Indeed, the Easter Road side ought to have won it. Paul Hanlon picked out Christian Doidge with the striker somehow cushioning his backrest header wide when it looked easier to score in the frantic later stages.
There had been a brief delay to kick-off with a VAR issue; Kilmarnock might well have wished it had not been corrected. Nick Walsh, in the VAR studio, had alerted referee Grant Irvine to what he felt was serious foul play from Ndaba but from every angle it seemed incredibly harsh.
When the game did get underway Kilmarnock looked eager to set off just as quickly as they did last weekend when they were a couple of goals to the good within the opening three minutes.
Teenager David Watson looked to get them up and running as he steered a half volley wide of the target before Hibs started to find their feet.
Emiliano, making his first start for the Easter Road side, pushed the ball into the path of Dylan Vente but his rasping effort was just wide of the post.
As Kilmarnock slowly started to exert control of the game, Matty Kennedy flashed an effort at the near post that David Marshall tipped around the post.
Danny Armstrong whipped a cross into the box that Ndaba looked to get on the end of at the back post. As Vente tried to block him the ball looked to have taken a final touch off of the Hibs player.
Killie should very quickly have doubled their lead. A quick Armstrong free-kick over a statuesque Hibs defence picked out Kennedy but he poked his effort wide of Marshall and just wide of the target.
The Easter Road side should have been back on level terms immediately after the restart. Jair Tavares got in behind the Killie defence but he was too slow to get his shot away, allowing Stuart Findlay to slide in and nick the ball from under him just as he was about to pull the trigger.
It proved to be nothing more than a notice of what was to come.
Armstrong was the provider yet again.The winger cut inside onto his left before delivering a wicked, curling ball to the back post that, as Hibs seemed to stand and watch, Kennedy slid in to push into the net.
From nowhere, though, Hibs pulled themselves back into the game with Newell’s volley from the inside of his right boot from the edge of the box giving them a way back in.
With their tails up, Hibs went for it. Killie keeper Kieran O’Hara had to save an Emiliano effort with his feet as the home support got a little more antsy.
Those fears intensified after the dismissal of Ndaba. The defender’s dismissal seemed harsh but it gave Hibs a lifeline.
They didn’t shy away from taking it.
Dylan Levitt’s ball straight down into the box picked out Maolida and, as Kilmarnock got caught out as they tried to clear their lines,, the substitute simply steered it into the net.
Doidge might have won them it as he passed up a glaring back post header from Hanlon’s cross.
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