That uglywin everyone was almost wishing into existence? The scrappy, scruffy, don’t-care-about-the-performancevictory so often mentioned as the panacea to all that ails a team in a slump?
This was thevery epitome of that for a Hibs side relieved to have broken a seven-gamewinless streak – despite one of the least convincing performances since NickMontgomery’s arrival two months ago.
Monty’s menget credit for showing grit and gumption. And for not letting the three pointsslip once they got themselves in front; putting an end to that recurringfailing will go a long way to changing the fortunes of a team who have nowclimbed to seventh in the Scottish Premiership.
But the homefans who groaned and griped their way through a cold afternoon at Easter Road,while understanding the value of the victory, are unlikely to cherish warmmemories of a contest that ought to have come with a trigger warning for anyonewith a love of good football.
JoshCampbell’s second goal in as many games, continuing the scoring form struck inhis first start under Montgomery in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with St Mirren,saw Hibs carve out a precious lead with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
And that wasvirtually the end of the entertainment on a day which promised little … then liveddown to expectations.
In a firsthalf of almost entirely unrelenting brutality, not least for punters reduced towondering when any of the 22 professionals on the pitch might start allowing eachother to play a bit of football, it often felt as if actual passing sequenceswere getting in the way of all the stoppages, nudges, niggles and off-the-ballfouls.
Hibs werenot coping well with the high-intensity approach of visitors keen to play forterritory and squeeze their hosts high up the pitch.
Still, theydid create a couple of decent opportunities even before the opener, with JairTavares close to hitting the target following a lovely bit of skill 20 yardsfrom goal inside the opening three minutes.
Martin Boylesaw a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside – with no lengthy VAR delay this time, atleast – and the Socceroos star then went down under a Stuart Findlay challenge inthe penalty box that might have merited a review by the video officials, withthe forward clean through on the keeper and unlikely to simply go down by hisown accord.
Boyle washeavily involved in the opener, too, scampering through the middle of the Killieranks and eluding a scything Liam Donnelly challenge to play in Campbell, whoselow finish beyond Will Dennis demonstrated real composure.
Theintroduction of Elie Youan early in the second half added something differentto the Hibs attack, the tireless but luckless Dylan Vente making way asCampbell was pushed up alongside Boyle.
And therewere brief inklings of the passing game that had been such a hallmark of Hibs duringthose promising early days of the Montgomery era, when the new manager bounceseemed to put a spring in everyone’s step.
Tavaresforced a full stretch save from Dennis with a rasping low shot 20 minutes fromtime, while Campbell also stung the keeper’s palms with a thumping effort.
But theoverall impression was of a tired team. A weary group who, with certain notableexceptions, should be allowed to rest up during the international break.