Why Hibs and Dundee United will both be kicking themselves after Easter Road draw

But both will be kicking themselves that a victory and the accompanying extra two points eluded them.

Three points would have cemented the Tannadice side’s top half status and they got off to the ideal start, grabbing the opener in the tenth minute, but, after a ponderous response, Hibs finally found their cutting edge ahead of the interval to level the score.

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It was just their fourth goal in nine league outings, to return that points to the club’s difficulty in moving clear of all the other top six challengers. With just one win in their last 12 Premiership games, it means they have to wager everything on a positive result at Tynecastle next weekend.

Hibs striker Elias Melkersen after missing a late chance in the 1-1 draw with Dundee United. (Photo by Ewan Bootman/SNS Group)

With Ryan Porteous serving the first game of his four-match ban, Hibs had been forced into a defensive reshuffle and one of four changes to the starting line-up, Harry Clarke came in for his debut. The January acquisition had been sidelined by a training ground injury, with his gaffer missing his pace, power, assists and goal threat out of defence. But utilized in a left wing-back role, the 21-year-old Arsenal loanee did not take long to make his presence felt, showing dynamism to get into position to receive Chris Cadden’s ball into the middle and then composure to turn and drill the ball beyond Benjamin Siegrist.

It was a 45th minute response to United’s opener, which the newcomer probably felt he could have done more to prevent. Unable to cut out Tony Watt’s cross into the area, that allowed Ryan Edwards to head the ball back across goal for Ross Graham to rise and finish.

If that goal raised the visitors, they found it tough to carve out too many possibilities to double their tally. But, too slow and predictable as they sought out gaps in the United rearguard, the home side fared even worse, struggling to manufacture any shots at goal until Paul Hanlon’s foray forward presented Clarke with a chance which he scorched just wide before Cadden and Clarke combined. in first half stoppage time.

But that goal provided a timely mood enhancer. And, with United sitting deeper and deeper in the second half, Hibs squeezed them tight.

As fortunes fluctuated within the game, the ebb and flow of results elsewhere also contributed to the atmosphere as the fans demanded greater urgency.

So, while United seemed content with a draw, knowing it should be enough, Hibs added more punch as Maloney threw on a whole cast of attacking players. There were a couple of examples of penalty box pinball as Hibs players lined up to take shots and their opponents took it in turns to block them.

But, after Chris Mueller had a penalty shout dismissed when appearing to be fouled by Ilmari Niskanen in the box, the best opportunity fell to Elias Melkersen. He was played in by the American but with Hibs fans holding their breath, the young Norwegian leant back and blazed his shot over the bar.

With so much still at stake, he will hope it does not come back to haunt him.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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