Doyle earns Hibernian a point

Kilmarnock and Hibernian served up a festive 1-1 draw in their

SPL clash at a sodden Rugby Park on Sunday.

In an entertaining first-half played in almost constant rain,

striker Paul Heffernan gave the Ayrshire side the lead in the sixth

minute before Hibees hit-man Eoin Doyle levelled in 26 minutes with

his third goal in two games.

While Killie defender Robbie Fowler made a goalline clearance

from Paul Cairney just after the break, excitement levels dipped

and thereafter neither side did enough to claim all three

points.

However, both sets of players deserve credit for playing in some

miserable conditions, as did the 4,023 fans who braved the

conditions.

Kilmarnock boss Kenny Shiels made one enforced change to his

side with James Dayton coming into midfield to replace the

suspended Liam Kelly.

The visitors, without skipper James McPake through suspension,

showed two changes to their starting line-up with Lewis Stevenson

coming in at left-back and midfielder Gary Deegan replacing Jorge

Claros, who started on the bench.

Pat Fenlon’s men, captained by Paul Hanlon and playing in

all-yellow, found themselves behind early in the game after

defender Alan Maybury had fouled Dayton 25 yards from goal when it

looked as if he was favourite to clear Heffernan’s poor cross.

Ben Williams made a fine save from Borja Perez’s powerful

free-kick but the Leith side failed to clear their lines and when

Killie defender Michael Nelson put Heffernan in the Irishman

skilfully lobbed the Hibs keeper from inside the box.

Stunned Hibs battled back but it was Killie who had the next

chance in the 14th minute when Dayton’s fine cross from the left

found Heffernan but his header from eight yards slipped past the

far post.

Moments later, Hibs striker Leigh Griffiths fired a free-kick

from 30 yards over Cammy Bell’s crossbar, before his low drive from

similar distance sped past the post with the Rugby Park keeper

scrambling to cover.

However, the visitors got themselves back on level terms after

Heffernan lost possession in the centre circle with the ball

breaking to Cairney.

The Hibs midfielder sent Griffiths racing down the right and his

driven cross arrived at Doyle who did well to turn it at the far

post.

Moments later, Heffernan had a drive deflected past for a corner

from which the home side failed to capitalise before Doyle had a

decent effort from 25 yards saved by Bell.

It was developing into an open game and in the 32nd minute

Heffernan cleverly set up Jeroen Tesselaar inside a packed Hibs

penalty area but the left-back’s left-footed drive from 14 yards

missed the target.

Four minutes from the break Killie escaped following a David

Wotherspoon corner when Bell punched the ball in an attempted

clearance and breathed a sigh of relief as it cannoned off Hanlon

and back over the bar.

The Easter Road men should have taken the lead just over a

minute into the second-half when Doyle set up Cairney in the box

but his chip over Bell – when it looked like he would have been

better off blasting it – was headed off the line by Fowler.

There was little between the two sides but Bell found himself

called into action again when he had to push a long-distance drive

from Griffiths round the post for a corner which, once more, came

to nothing.

It looked as if something special would be needed to find the

winner and Kilmarnock defender Mohamadou Sissoko almost provided it

when he ventured up the park to have a go from 35 yards but watched

as the ball fizzed just past Williams’ left-hand post.

In the 85th minute Williams spilled Dayton’s 25-yard free-kick

before the Hibs defence eventually cleared to safety but in the end

both sides looked as if they had run out of steam and thus, a draw

was probably a fair result.