Hibs might be out of the Petrofac Cup at the first time of asking but the Easter Road outfit can take small comfort from the fact the match was heavily influenced by referee John Beaton who offered the Scottish League’s newest club all the benefits associated with their predecessors Glasgow Rangers.
The Rangers had taken a 14th minute lead through Lewis McLeod when his low drive beat debutant Mark Oxley in the Hibees goal who will be disappointed at his efforts to save.
That was pretty much as good as it got for the Ibrox side throughout the 90 minutes of normal time as Hibs grew into the match and could and should have had four in the second half.
Sam Stanton was the first to squander a gilt edged chance when he found himself free from the Light Blues defence but his weak effort was easily saved by Bell.
Hibs were to equalise just before the hour mark when the Rangers backline failed to cope with an innocuous ball into their box and young Danny Handling swept the ball home to the joy of the visiting support.
Summer signing Farid El-Alagui then had two excellent chances to put Hibs ahead as the home side chased shadows.
His first effort fell to him on the volley when he probably had more time than he thought and he fired over the bar, once more as a result of indecision in Rangers back five.
Ten minutes later he was on the end of a Craig corner and his header flew just over the bar.
Referee Beaton then decided to take matters into his own hands having decided the mauling the former giants of Scottish football were taking at the hands of the visitors from the capital was too much to bear for the 16,000 or so ‘Gers fans who bothered to turn up.
Danny Handling, he who had the audacity to equalise, was red carded for a foul on substitute David Templeton which was possibly worthy of a yellow card but was never a red card in a footballing month of Saturday’s or Sunday’s.
Now some reading this will immediately think this is sour grapes but the challenge was no worse than those committed not ten minutes prior by Ian Black or the aforementioned Templeton immediately after he was brought into the fray. Neither player received so much as a word in their ear.
Add into the mix the visitors received an additional 5 yellow cards in a game of few bad tackles then it’s fair to see the referee was clearly trying to emulate his probable hero Craig Thomson when it comes to impartiality where Hibernian are concerned.
To be fair to him he did try to balance the cards out by dishing out two yellows to Rangers players but both were given with tears in his eyes and with little time remaining in extra time.
So you’d generally expect the home side to push on and take control of the game but this is a team far removed from their famous fore bearers and they generally look devoid of any ideas.
The game drifted into extra time and the thought process believed it would be a mistake from someone which was to settle it rather than a moment of magic and so it came to bear.
Hibs defended resolutely to half clear the ball but it fell to cramp stricken Scott Robertson who could only clear as far as Nicky Law who produced a curling effort into the bottom corner.
So it wasn’t to be for Alan Stubbs and his new look outfit but the performance was good and there is certainly much to be optimistic about ahead of Hibs opener against Livingston on Saturday.
Congratulations meanwhile to John Beaton and Rangers who can skip merrily into the sunset hand in hand.
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