Hogg at the double to sink Killie

The restored skipper helped lift the gloom following the exit of
former manager John Hughes, to ensure stand-in dug-out duo Alistair
Stevenson and Gareth Evans savoured a much-needed Scottish Premier
League win. Defender Hogg, playing his first game since August 29
after being dropped by Hughes, proved the hero thanks to a headed
double in a seven-minute burst just before half-time. They were
only Hogg’s second and third goals in a Hibernian shirt, his first
also coming against Kilmarnock in January 2006. Kilmarnock, managed
by former Hibs boss Mixu Paatelainen, made the perfect start when
David Silva struck inside two minutes. The Rugby Park side passed
up chances to add to their lead before Hogg stepped in to help Hibs
to their first success since the opening day of the season.
Stevenson and Evans, placed in charge for the fixture as chairman
Rod Petrie continues to seek a new manager, made three changes to
the team that lost 2-0 at St Johnstone a fortnight ago, the result
that ultimately cost Hughes his job. Hogg, Paul Hanlon and Lewis
Stevenson, making his first league appearance of the season, were
all restored, with Francis Dickoh, Michael Hart and Jonathan
Grounds dropping to the bench. Kilmarnock, previously the last side
to lose to Hibs at Easter Road on March 6, also made three changes.
Ben Gordon, Harry Forrester and Liam Kelly all started, with Frazer
Wright suspended and Garry Hay and Danny Invincibile among the
substitutes. Hibs were in need of a positive opening but got off to
a dreadful start when the Ayrshire men netted after just 80
seconds. Kelly was afforded too much room on the right and when his
cross was missed by the Hibs defence, Silva had time to control
before driving under Mark Brown from eight yards. The goal could
have sapped the spirit of the hosts, but they almost replied after
seven minutes when Colin Nish headed over from David Wotherspoon’s
centre. Sol Bamba also saw a header blocked for a corner from a
Derek Riordan free-kick as Evans, directing most prominently from
the dug-out, urged a response. But Hibs’ new-look defence, with
Hogg at right-back and Stevenson at left-back, looked shaky. Kelly
almost took advantage again but drove just wide from 15 yards.
Alexei Eremenko was next to try his luck for the visitors, cutting
inside on to his right foot and sending a long-range strike just
over. Hibs were struggling to create and the home fans were growing
frustrated. Paatelainen’s men went close to doubling their lead in
the 33rd minute. Jamie Hamill shrugged off John Rankin on the right
but his cut-back was spooned over by Conor Sammon. Three minutes
later Silva passed up an even better chance, nodding a yard wide at
the back post after a fine centre from Forrester. But, out of the
blue, Hibs claimed a 38th-minute leveller. Riordan’s corner from
the right saw Hogg leap highest to power home a header that Craig
Bryson could only help into the net from on the line. Remarkably,
Hibs grabbed the lead on the stroke of half-time – and again Hogg
was the hero. Hanlon’s diagonal ball picked out the defender whose
looping header from just outside the penalty area flew into the
left-hand corner. Kilmarnock had the first opening after the
interval as Brown clutched a shot from Kelly at his near post. Hibs
replied when a Nish centre fell to Rankin on the edge of the
penalty area but the midfielder ballooned his effort into the
stand, before Hamill deflected a Riordan drive over. Silva then
burst clear at the other end but his dangerous centre across the
face of goal found no takers. Brown came to his side’s rescue on
the hour mark as Sammon almost equalised. Bryson picked out the
striker whose close-range header looked net-bound only for the Hibs
goalkeeper, nearly impeded by Bamba, to tip over. Sammon claimed
Bamba had in fact handled on the line but referee Iain Brines was
unmoved. Kilmarnock were enjoying spells of possession but the
hosts, with Hogg replaced by Hart, were defending stoutly in search
of a precious victory. Brown was again called into action after 80
minutes, moving to his left to push away Hamill’s free-kick strike.
Nish could have put the match beyond doubt near the end but he
failed to net after a centre from Riordan. The visitors pushed for
a leveller, but when the chance arrived it was at the other end as
Rankin picked out Riordan in injury-time only for the forward to
find the side-netting.