Willie Collum criticism – was it over the top?
Referees are not supposed to steal the show in a football match. Willie Collum often neglects such a rule, while applying several others. This is not to say that Collum makes the wrong decisions. It is just his manner on the pitch, a general keeping the troops in check, straight out of the old school, army textbook, that can grate. He winds up supporters and often players and managers, but he is not afraid to make big decisions. There were plenty of those between Hibs and Rangers. Collum dished up the pundits on Sportscene quite the feast. However, were any of them incorrect calls? The first, a penalty award for Rangers just before half time, had Hibs fans frothing. Rocky Bushiri can have no complaints, though. He needlessly put his hands on Antonio Colak and the Croat went down. Spot-kick, I’m afraid, even if it was soft. Let’s discuss John Lundstram’s red card, for a cynical foul on Martin Boyle as the Australian raced away. He lunged, but not at pace. Collum will have let more dangerous tackles go by without the red mist descending. It was a yellow, the sort of tackle you often see when transitions are halted in their tracks. Alfredo Morelos’ red card for an elbow on Marijan Cabraja? One hundred per cent a red card. You can’t swing an arm at an opponent like that and not expect punishment when you connect with his face. Yes, bashing Collum is a fun sport for many, but he got two out of three right here. It would have been very interesting to see if VAR, coming to your screens very soon, would have intervened.
Ryan Kent – aarrghh!
Ryan Kent is such a talented, fun player to watch. He is probably the most skilful in the Rangers shirt. But what irks and perplexes is the lack of genuine returns. Granted, opposition managers often double up on the former Liverpool man, which makes life tougher for him. Yet there are times when he does the hard things and then fails to deliver the easier cross, pass or finish. There was a moment against Hibs when he beat three players in one move and as the goal came into view, inexplicably passed rather than shooting. Then, when he did decide to fire on another occasion, his effort was wayward. This was the story at times last season too – the most crucial moment being his miss in the Europa League final in extra-time against Eintracht Frankfurt. He’s the player with all the chat-up lines, but can’t get the numbers. In the past two seasons, they stand at this: played 28, two goals, eight assists – not enough for a player with endless ability.
Hibs show maturity
Hibs were rightly criticised for their first-half performance at Livingston and their toddler-like swings, one minute playing well, the next being miles off the pace. Such a display demands a reaction and Hibs brought that to the table. They played very well here. They pressed, they were organised and they did not give up when behind not once, but twice. Joe Newell, singled out by this writer in West Lothian for not doing enough, was instrumental against Rangers, running the midfield, prompting and showing patience when trying to break down nine men. The challenge now is to maintain these levels when they travel to the less salubrious surroundings of the SMiSA Stadium next week against St Mirren.
Hibs player ratings: Marshall 6, Cadden 6, Porteous 7 (Bojang n/a), Bushiri 5, Hanlon 4 (Cabraja 8), Newell 8, Doyle-Hayes 6 (Miller 4), Campbell 9, Henderson 3 (Doidge 5), Boyle 8, Youan 8.
Rangers player ratings: McLaughlin 7, Tavernier 7, Goldson 5, Sands 6, Barisic 7, Jack 6, Lundstram 4, Lawrence 7 (Arfield 3), Matondo 5 (Davis 3), Kent 6 (King n/a), Colak 8 (Morelos 1).