Lima lifts ten-man Hibernians
Hibernians overcame an assured St Andrews’ display, with a hard fought win thanks to a Jackson Lima scorcher after only ten minutes play. The Paolites thus returned to victory after two successive draws that lifts them in joint third place with Valletta.
The win takes a bigger dimension, considering that it was achieved with ten men for the last half hour, after Hibernians had Joseph Mbong sent off for two cautions.
In the absence of Renan Telles, Bjorn Kristensen played in a more advanced role for Hibernians with Dunstan Vella handed a start in front of the Paolites’ three-man defence including Rodolfo Soares, Andrei Agius and Jonathan Pearson.
The match had a very bright start and there were early chances from both sides, with Hibernians posing the first threat in the opening minutes. Lima played a low free kick for the unmarked Mbong but he was blocked by keeper Galea’s outstretched leg.
St Andrews also went close on seven minutes. From a Paz’s corner, Che’s header rebounded off the upright.
And after Degabriele turned well inside the Saints’ area but shot wide, Jackson Lima opened the scoring for Hibernians after 10 minutes, unleashing a drilling shot from outside the area after St Andrews failed to defend their lines.
The atmosphere was subdued after Hibernians’ lead, even because St Andrews’ coach Danilo Doncic has established a highpressing attack and well-organised defensive unit that frustrated the Paolites.
In truth, goalmouth action was limited during the second half played with little space.
Ten minutes after the interval Pembroke went close to an equaliser with a well-taken Farrugia free kick that went narrowly over.
Towards the hour Hibernians fluffed a good opportunity when the St Andrews’ keeper rushed out to kick the ball upfield, it fell to the advancing Kristensen who failed to put it into an empty net, missing the target.
Hibernians even introduced Renan Telles for Pearson but on 64 minutes they were down to ten men when Joseph Mbong was shown a second yellow card in the match.
Coach Mark Miller withdrew Degabriele and put in Clayton Failla to bolster his defence, expecting St Andrews to make a reaction. That came in the form of Paz being substituted by Jacob Walker.
Other substitute Godwin McKay’s dipper with seven minutes remaining, had keeper Hogg tipping the ball over the bar. But the Saints could not craft clear opportunities despite late pressure.
Hibernians responded well and the merits of victory were not in dispute.