Striker double-act earns Hibs rare away win at Aberdeen to ease pressure

Adam Le Fondre wheels away after scoring the opener in Hibs' 2-0 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. Picture: Paul Phelan / SNS Group
Adam Le Fondre wheels away after scoring the opener in Hibs' 2-0 win against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. Picture: Paul Phelan / SNS Group

The Englishman curled home a wonderful opener after Doidge had played in Joe Newell before the Welshman doubled Hibs’ advantage by nodding past Kelle Roos after the Dons had failed to clear a corner. Hibs are now up to tenth going into the international break, having built on their improved showing on Thursday night, with Barry Robson’s side now joint-bottom with St Johnstone and both without a league win to their name.

The importance of Le Fondre

There were some raised eyebrows when Hibs plucked the veteran striker from a goal-laden spell in the A-League, particularly given that his arrival came not long after Kevin Nisbet’s departure for Millwall. Le Fondre referenced the supporters’ scepticism in one of his first press conferences but three goals and one assist in seven appearances so far suggest that it was a shrewd piece of business. He wasn’t long on the park at Pittodrie when he curled in a fine opening goal and his years of experience and nous in the final third helped Hibs gain the upper hand when the hosts were flagging. There’s an argument that he should have played more than he has but perhaps using him sparingly has helped produce these numbers.

What a difference a week makes

Against Livingston last weekend Hibs looked cumbersome and disjointed across the park, potentially a side-effect of the morale-denting defeat by Aston Villa three days earlier. But it would not be a stretch to say that their performance at Pittodrie might have been their most complete yet this season. There were obviously moments against Luzern in both legs, and Inter Club d’Escaldes but against the Dons each player knew their role and requirements and the performance was more cohesive and more polished. Not perfect; far from it, but given how inconsistent and at times haphazard Hibs have been since football resumed in July, there were promising signs in this display, both individually and collectively.

A clean sheet

The last time Hibs kept a clean sheet in a competitive game was on May 13 in a goalless draw with Aberdeen… at Pittodrie. Of more concern was the rate with which they were shipping goals at the start of this season and fans might have feared the worst coming up against the twin threat of Duk and Bojan Miovski. But a defence that has looked ragged at times in the last few weeks gelled when it mattered most – ably assisted by Jimmy Jeggo, and David Marshall who bounced back well from his error for Villa’s third on Thursday night.

Gray expectations?

David Gray’s go-to response when asked about the managerial vacancy is usually to dismiss it with a comment along the lines of, ‘I’m just here to do a job until I’m told otherwise and I’ll do it to the best of my ability’. Not only has he masterminded Hibs’ first win of the 2023/24 campaign, he’s also managed a win at Pittodrie and not many Hibs coaches have managed that in recent memory. He will likely remain coy about his chances but might this result and performance have given the Easter Road board pause for thought?