Date: 24th May 2015 at 10:12am
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Hibs’ dreams of a return to the Premiership ended on Saturday with the win at Easter Road not enough for us to overturn the aggregate deficit against Rangers so it’s they who will play-off with Motherwell for the chance to return to the topflight.

A win was needed, that at least matched the first leg defeat of two-nil. We had enough chances to have realistically achieved that but with our winner, in the one-nil win on Saturday, coming deep into injury-time it was too little too late with Rangers advancing with a two-one aggregate win.

Our intention was clear from the beginning with a more attacking formation being show with Rangers, understandably I suppose, much more cautious and restrained. For the control we had on the game in the opening period of the first half we couldn’t really create enough clear-cut chances, and the ones we did weren’t taken.

Claims for a Shiels handball were waved away, he looked to clear the ball to safety but with this miscued it came up against his hand but the ref wasn’t interested. It might have been a harsh penalty but we would have taken it.

Rangers ‘keeper Bell was called into action a couple of times, Cummings might feel he should have scored but the moment of most danger saw him keep out Craig’s effort and with Malonga looking to follow up Rangers veteran McCulloch cleared to safety.

Oxley had been a bystander for almost half an hour but was alert enough to make a simple enough save from Miller, the first Rangers effort, with the veteran also putting a diving header wider.

In a goalless first half, Oxley made sure of this, when the Bolton loanee pulled off a fine save to deny Rangers’ own loanee, from Newcastle, Vuckic.

With needs must we called on the cavalry with El Alagui and Dje Djedje coming on, added to Malonga and Cummings this meant that we, as we had to, had four strikers on the pitch at one time but still there wasn’t enough threat and even though it wasn’t intended as a shot Bell was troubled by an Allan cross, needing to turn this over.

Malonga had two chances, one he couldn’t hit the target with as he volleyed wide and the other, from the edge of the area, kept out Bell with Zaliukas producing an important block with Cummings set to be away and in on goal from an Allan pass and when Hanlon could only hit the post in injury-time, from close range, that was a sign that it wasn’t going to be our day.

Cummings’ (90+4) curling effort deep into injury-time ended up winning us the game but that wasn’t enough with Rangers advancing two-one on aggregate so a topflight return is now insight, for us it’s a case of ‘what might have been’ and looking to next season now…. The main worry is can we retain the players that we want to from this squad to mount a title challenge next season?

 

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