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Youthful Hibs “Schooled” By Clinical County

Ross County taught a young Hibernian side a lesson in the art of the ‘smash and grab’ as they ran out 2-0 winners at Easter Road.

Goals either side of half time for George Harmon and Alex Iacovitti rewarded a heroic performance for the Staggies backline with all three points against a toothless Hibs side.

Hibs dominated the ball in the early stages but continued to lack the killer instinct that has continued to evade them for much of this season.

Demetri Mitchell (starting his first game since February) fired a volley over the bar before Chris Cadden had a shot blocked after making himself space in the 18-yard box.

The Hibees looked to be getting into their groove, forcing Malky Mackay to switch to a back five, moving Owura Edwards a little bit further back to fit into a County defence sitting very deep.

The tactical change stifled Hibs, not allowing Mykola Kukharevych and Elias Melkersen to receive the ball on the turn and constantly forcing them back towards their own goal.

The away side grew into the game the more the half went on, with Jordan White having a shot from close range deflected over the bar to give the Hibees a scare.

The pressure from the Staggies only continued as a flurry of corners in first half injury time had the Hibernian defence unsettled as Yan Dhanda fired a low cross into the box for George Harmon to knock the ball past David Marshall giving Ross County the lead on the stroke of half time.

County could have doubled their lead early in the second half, White chesting the ball down for Dhanda who smashed the ball wide from the edge of the box.

The home side were inches from an equaliser when half time substitute Elie Youan broke down the wing, but his cross had just too much on it for the onrushing Ewan Henderson. 

The home crowd began to grow frustrated with their team. Countless crosses were overhit, passes were being misplaced, and shots were being easily blocked.

In fact, the only work Ross Laidlaw had to do in the first hour was pal away a long range effort from Ryan Porteous.

Despite the home side being camped in the County half, it was the visitors who grabbed the second goal of the game with ten minutes left on the clock.

Poor Hibs defence saw Harmon break into the box and roll the ball into Alex Iacovitti in acres of space to slide the ball home and put the Staggies in dreamland.

A goal against the run of play for Malky Mackay’s men, but a just reward for Iacovitti’s outstanding performance for the visitors.

The Staggies’ second knocked the stuffing out of Lee Johnson’s men, the home side looking like they wouldn’t have scored if they played until midnight.

Lee Johnson felt his young team’s lack of experience should not be used as a way to shift blame from his side’s performance.

“It’s not to excuse. I’ve put that young team out to be energetic, to be bright on the ball, to be technical. Again we have control without goalmouth action, and when we get to the final third we were schooled by two senior centre halves.”

Malky Mackay was full of praise for his own young team, in particular 21-year-old George Harmon who bagged his second goal in as many games tonight along with an assist.

“Look at George tonight, who’s come from being released from West Brom’s academy, to going to Oxford City and the 7th tier of English football. We take him in as maybe a succession plan but he’s done so well that he’s pushed himself in there.”

Back-to-back wins for Mackay’s men see them move up to tenth in the table.

A fifth defeat in six leave Hibernian staring down the battle of the bottom six going into the World Cup break.

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