A brace from Jamie Gullan saw Hibernian progress against East Kilbride at Easter Road, to seal their spot into the 4th round of the Scottish Cup.
Hibernian looked to take the attacking initiative in the match, opting with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Adam Watson, Jamie Gullan and Yrik Gallantes operating in behind Ruari Paton who lead the line. Their opponents looked to stifle the Hibees attacking presence by packing the midfield with a 4-1-4-1 formation, making themselves a challenge to break down.
The away side’s tactic seemed to be going according to plan in the early stages, as Hibernian dominated possession and worked the ball well around the pitch, but failed to get in behind a very deep East Kilbride defence. Most of Hibernian’s play came through Innes Murray, who seemed to popped up all over the pitch in the first-half to offer a pass, but the final pass was becoming the problem.
Jamie Gullan had already been having a fine game in the first-half, and with the Hibees using their winger frequently as a focal point throughout the first-half, he seemed more likely than anybody to make a difference. A goal from open play looked unlikely, so it was his stunning free-kick half an hour in which broke the deadlock. The goal appeared to open up the game somewhat, as the away side went in search of an equaliser.
Jay McInally was handed a tough task in leading the line for the visitors, but with his constant pressing of the Hibs’ defence, he managed to find himself in promising positions a number of times in the first half, although most of his efforts failed to trouble Dabrowski. The same could be said for the rest of his team, who were failing to create many clear-cut opportunities, and resorted to speculative efforts more often than not.
Their high pressing game paid off just before half-time as East Kilbride snatched an equaliser. Once again, McInally was there to prevent Hibs from playing out from the back, and after a defensive mix-up was left with a simple finish to level the scoreline.
For the start of the second-half, their goal seemed to give the away side confidence, pushing forward in greater numbers than in the first-half and enjoying more possession inside the Hibernian half. At the same time, the hosts were having their chances restricted due to East Kilbride’s organisation.
Hibs noticed that their opponents were edging into the match, and opted to switch Gullan over to the left-hand side and Gallantes to the right. The results worked wonders, as Hibernian began to find their attacking impetus again and stretched East Kilbride around the pitch. Gullan found as much success on the right as he did the left, grabbing the second goal and resorting Hibs’ lead with an opportunistic finish from inside the box.
Hibernian introduced Ryan Shanley into the equation, bringing off Gallantes after their second goal, with Gullan returning back over to the left wing. Their opponents opted to bring on Nathan Kanna as a replacement for Conor Bell, increasing their attacking options as they went in search of an equaliser. Despite the change, the game continued to follow the same pattern as the first-half, with Hibs dominating possession and their opponents having to soak up pressure. Gregor Woods in the centre of Hibernian’s midfield was quietly having an effective game, recycling possession well and not allowing Kilbride to build any momentum.
The visitors finished the match with four attackers on the pitch at times as they tried desperately to claw their way back in, but despite a flurry of late set pieces, were unable to find the elusive second goal. Hibs managed the final minutes well, keeping the ball near the corner flag and running down the clock, eventually confirming their place into the next round. A deserved win for the Hibees but a spirited and organised display from the visitors.