Boyle does double for Hibs as Stubbs’ revamp is spot on
THIS was a satisfactory afternoon all round for Hibernian and their head coach, Alan Stubbs. A convincing 3-0 victory over Alloa, seven players rested and much-needed game time handed to those that have been watching on from the bench of late.
The sheer scale of Stubbs’ tinkering may have caused some alarm to the natives before kick-off but this result was never in doubt from the moment Martin Boyle added the first of his double after five minutes.
Danny Carmichael, making only his third start, notched another five minutes before the break before Boyle added gloss to the scoreline in the 77th minute.
With his match marking the start of an exhausting run of five games in 14 days, Stubbs’ adjustments paid off in more ways than one.
“The most important thing was getting the three points,” said Stubbs, whose side had just negotiated a sequence of matches that had been both physically and mentally sapping.
“It makes it even sweeter when the lads who have come in make such a big contribution to the game.
“We’ve got a lot of games so we have to utilise the squad. We’ve got to chop and change when we feel there is an opportunity to do it.
“When you look back now, they were justified.”
Lewis Stevenson’s absence was enforced owing to suspension, while the others were given a well earned rest following a period that has seen Hibs reach the League Cup final at the expense of St Johnstone, and a Scottish Cup quarter-final following Tuesday’s gripping replay victory over city rivals Hearts.
Boyle’s early breakthrough ensured Hibs were never really in trouble but, had they been, Stubbs had plenty in reserve; captain David Gray, John McGinn, Jason Cummings, Anthony Stokes and Darren McGregor among those that formed a formidable bench.
Some 8,765 watched this televised encounter and the majority were on their feet after five minutes to celebrate Boyle’s effort.
Boyle got to Liam Henderson’s diagonal pass inside the box before keeper Scott Gallacher and, after knocking the ball to the side, the former Dundee marksman had the simple task of tapping into the empty net.
Alloa should have been level 60 seconds later but Steven Hetherington’s tame effort just yards out was scooped into the arms of Mark Oxley.
The Hibs keeper was forced into action again in the 32nd minute, scrambling across his goal to keep out Connor McMannus’ free-kick from an acute angle.
But Hibs doubled their lead five minutes before the break with a goal that was again all down to the assist.
Keatings somehow managed to thread a pass through a phalanx of Alloa players to find Carmichael in the box and the former Queen of the South forward planted a close range shot into the net.
Alloa were again unlucky not to find the net when Michael Duffy’s dink over Oxley landed on top of the net ten minutes after the restart.
Chances came and went at the other end. Liam Fontaine, Chris Dagnall and Henderson were among those that failed to convert from decent positions.
Just moments after Oxley pulled off a fine save to deny Mitch Megginson, Boyle added his second in the 77th minute.
Dagnall’s low drive from inside the box was deflected into the path of the forward at the back post and he made no mistake from close range.
Hibs marksman Keatings, who was one of those restored to the starting XI, added: “Changing teams can go either way but the boys who have come in did a good job and we won the game.”
HIGH BALL: Alloa’s Michael Duffy (left) battles with Hibernian’s Liam Fontaine