Hibernian’s Martin Boyle is in a “brilliant place”, says head coach Jack Ross, after he scored in a 2-0 Scottish Premiership victory over Livingston.
The winger, called up by Australia this week, added to Kevin Nisbet’s opener to seal victory and ensure Hibs maintained the pace at the top of the league.
Boyle’s fourth goal in as many league games caught the eye.
“The goal is indicative of the place Martin is in,” said Ross. “He was really good throughout the game.”
Ross added: “He was such a threat. The fans got behind us and it was really good to see. We have a good Hibs team here at the moment.”
Nisbet, who has been named in the latest Scotland squad, limped off – but Ross said he was “fine”.
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- Reaction & as it happened
As a result of this victory, Hibs are ahead of city rivals Hearts on goal difference, with both sides earning 10 points in their opening four games.
Livingston, though, are still searching for their first point. David Martindale insisted before the match he knew “for a fact” his side would not be relegated, but they offered little at Easter Road and are rooted at the bottom of the division.
Their problems deepened when striker Bruce Anderson suffered a diabetic fit on the pitch just before half-time, requiring hospital treatment, and goalkeeper Max Stryjek and centre-back Jack Fitzwater were ill during the interval.
Few chances in a cagey affair
Zero shots on target in the opening 45 minutes summed up what was a cagey affair. Neither Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey nor his Livingston counterpart had a catch to make, never mind a save, as a midfield battle played out.
There were glimpses of potential in attack. Bruce Anderson found some room at the edge of the Hibs box but didn’t do much with his shot. And Jamie Murphy scuffed an effort at the other end before the Hibs winger was forced off injured.
Jack Ross’ side started playing in Livingston’s half but a shot on target still proved elusive. Nisbet was silenced by Livingston’s defence, as were fellow forwards James Scott and Boyle.
While the visitors’ defensive work was to be commended, they’d created even less. Martindale wasn’t helped on the injury front either with Fitzwater subbed off moments into the second half. Craig Sibbald soon limped off, too.
Nisbet added to the headache by turning Sean Kelly inside-out off the back of a searching Paul McGinn pass. His third goal of the season was cool, firing accurately to beat Stryjek with a low effort.
Hibs were building their control in the match before Nisbet’s goal. After it, they fully asserted themselves. Livingston seemed more urgent in their play but, as was a running theme, no chances were being created.
Boyle put an end to their short-lived building of momentum. The winger cut inside and lifted a nice effort into the Livingston goal.
It cements Hibs’ status at the top end of the Premiership while Livingston have been left with some thinking to do over the international break.
Man of the Match – Martin Boyle
What we learned
This was a game of few chances on target but it became apparent early on that Hibs were in control. Ross’ men appeared to have more purpose about them, while Livingston looked out of ideas when approaching the goal.
While not at their best, Hibs did more than enough to win, and overall it’s been a great start to the league season for Ross. Although they have faced three of last season’s top six, Livingston need to start picking up points from somewhere.
What they said
Hibernian head coach Jack Ross: “It was a hard-fought win. We showed patience to get our couple of goals. We are still looking to strengthen the group before the end of the transfer window.
“You can see that the group is able to show patience. We do things the way we work on them.”
Livingston manager David Martindale: “There were seven of eight boys who gave me everything and a few were struggling with injury. I am delighted to have the international break, to be honest.
“It will give us a break to get boys back to fitness.”
The international break comes first, but Hibs need no reminding of their next fixture. Hearts at Tynecastle await Ross’ men on 12 September in the first Edinburgh derby of the season (12:00 BST). Livingston travel to Dundee a day earlier (15:00 BST).
- 25ScottSubstituted forMacKayat 90+1′minutes
- 18MurphySubstituted forAllanat 45+1′minutes
- 15NisbetSubstituted forWrightat 69′minutes
- 5FitzwaterSubstituted forKellyat 49′minutes
- 10SibbaldSubstituted forJacobsat 59′minutes
- 22ShinnieBooked at 75mins
- 9AndersonSubstituted forHamiltonat 45+2′minutes
- Steven McLean
Match ends, Hibernian 2, Livingston 0.
Second Half ends, Hibernian 2, Livingston 0.
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jack Hamilton (Livingston).
Attempt saved. Daniel MacKay (Hibernian) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Martin Boyle with a cross.
Substitution, Hibernian. Daniel MacKay replaces James Scott.
Goal! Hibernian 2, Livingston 0. Martin Boyle (Hibernian) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the right to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Scott Allan.
Foul by James Scott (Hibernian).
Ayo Obileye (Livingston) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Darren McGregor (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Nicky Devlin (Livingston).
Scott Allan (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Keaghan Jacobs (Livingston).
James Scott (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ayo Obileye (Livingston).
Offside, Hibernian. Matt Macey tries a through ball, but James Scott is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Drey Wright (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Josh Doig with a headed pass.
Attempt blocked. Jake Doyle-Hayes (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Scott Allan.
Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Sean Kelly.
Attempt blocked. Jake Doyle-Hayes (Hibernian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked. Assisted by Kyle Magennis.