JACK Ross was left with “mixed emotions” following Hibernian’s 2-2 with Dundee at the Kilmac Stadium. A penalty from Martin Boyle and a volley from Ryan Porteous gave Hibs the lead after Jason Cummings had opened the scoring against his former club, but substitute Paul McGowan popped up with seven minutes to go to nod in a free header.
Hibs were without striker Kevin Nesbit going into the match, the subject of speculation linking him with a move to Celtic. He was “unwell”, according to manager Jack Ross, who dismissed the reports as “nonsense”.
Hibs took on a Dundee side buoyed by their win in the Premier Sports Cup versus Motherwell the previous week. The home side started this one in a similar manner, pressing Hibs high at every opportunity.
Jack Ross made two changes from the side that eased past Kilmarnock in the Premier Sports Cup, bringing in Alex Gogic for Joe Newell, who’d picked up a knock, and new signing James Scott for Nesbit.
Dundee meanwhile welcomed backed Max Anderson from suspension to cover for another after Jordan Marshall was sent off in the 6-0 defeat at Celtic Park. The home side were rocked by the news that two of their players had tested positive for Covid ahead of the game, leaving them with just six players stripped for the bench.
The home fans were given plenty of encouragement from the start and were rewarded when Dundee took the lead on 11 minutes. Charlie Adam sent in a low cross after collecting a throw-in, which was missed by Anderson, who couldn’t react in time to shoot, and then by Hibs’ Darren McGregor before dropping to Jason Cummings. He remained composed to get it out of his feet and slot the ball past Matt Macey.
The Hibs manager was showing signs of frustration after his team cheaply surrendered possession several times and they responded with their first real spell of pressure. Former Motherwell striker Scott flashed a header just wide and stung the palms of Adam Legzdins either side of Lee Ashcroft doing enough to put off Kyle Magennis. Then left-back Josh Doig drove with the ball from his own half, into the Dundee box, before he was crowded out.
Minutes later Hibs equalised from the spot under dubious circumstances. Christie Elliott, who’d allowed Jamie Murphy goal-side, connected with the back of the winger but whether there was enough contact, or where the contact took place, was debatable.
“It’s not a penalty,” said frustrated Dundee manager James McPake. The referee has a split-second to make that decision but he has got to be spot on. The first contact is at least a yard outside the box.”
Regardless, Martin Boyle stepped up, also playing against his former club, to send Adam Legsdinz the wrong way. The Australian international signed a new contract earlier in the week after a £500,000 bid from Aberdeen and the pain of Paul Hartley once swapping him for Hibernian’s Alex Harris continues to haunt the Dundee faithful.
There was one final chance for the home side before half-time, with Macey getting two hands to Ashcroft’s header from a McMullan corner.
Lewis Stevenson came on at the break in an unfamiliar right-back role, replacing an unwell Paul McGinn and just before the hour Hibs were ahead when Porteous lost his man to volley home Magennis’ corner. Legzdins will feel he should have done better.
Hibs missed the chance to finish the put the game to bed when Murphy found himself one on one with the keeper with 15 minutes remaining but Legzdins was equal this time equal to it.
That miss would come back to bite the away side when Paul McMullan, a constant menace, sent in a cross which was nodded in by McGowan, who’d replaced the skipper Adam. He was booked for his celebration after going to the fans, though it was hard to grudge the Dundee stalwart after Dundee Council last week approved the return to full capacity.
Legzdins made one final save late on, this time from Boyle, to keep the scores level and ensure a share of the points.
“The opening part of the game was difficult for us,” said Ross. “Our reaction character-wise was good and then second half performance-wise was excellent. I have mixed emotions given we were a number of players down, made enforced changes during the game and coming away from home and still taking something is good.
“But I’m frustrated because at that time I thought we’d go on to win.”