- Monday, 13 February 2012
- Written by Modou Lamin Beyai
Gambia international Pa Saikou Kujabi made his first Scottish Premier League debut on Saturday afternoon at Easter Road Stadium after his side Hibernian played out a goalless draw with Aberdeen – just as they did back in September.
The score-line doesn’t do the game justice as both teams contributed to an excellent, open and entertaining 90 minutes with Pa Saikou going the full length for Hibs.
There were plenty of opportunities created with the best for Hibs falling to David Wotherspoon and Isaiah Osbourne only for Dons keeper Jason Brown to deny them both.
A share of the spoils perhaps the fairest outcome however both Pat Fenlon and Craig Brown will feel their teams could have won it.
Injuries and suspensions forced manager Fenlon to make three changes from the side which defeated Kilmarnock at Easter Road last weekend in the Scottish Cup.
Returning to the starting XI were Sean O’Hanlon, Jorge Claros and George Francomb with Paul Hanlon, Tom Soares and Captain James McPake sitting this one out.
Both teams made a lively start to the game but it was the visitors [Aberdeen] that carved out the first opportunity when Francomb cut out a near post cross from Scott Vernon aimed for Mitchell Megginson.
It was quickly followed by a chance at the other end when O’Hanlon got his head to Francomb’s corner kick however he was unable to guide it on target. Midfielder Wotherspoon thought he had netted his first league goal of the season when he evaded Clark Robertson before powerful shooting at goal from 12 yards.
Unfortunately for the Hibs man, Aberdeen goalkeeper Brown got a strong left hand to the ball and that was enough to divert it just wide of the post for a corner kick. The home side had an ever better opportunity soon after when Wotherspoon slipped in Osbourne only for Brown to save from point-blank range to deny the former Villa player. The Hibernian support had eager awaited the opportunity to see Claros in the side and he didn't disappoint with a classy performance.
However, classy couldn’t be used to O’Hanlon’s clearance as he attempted to cut-out a near post cross from Megginson after he had escaped the close attention of Francomb. The powerful stopper didn’t appear to know much about what had happened as the ball struck him and went inches wide of goal with Stack beaten.
From the resulting corner kick Andrew Considine should’ve scored after being gifted a free header inside the six-yard box only to nod the ball wide. An open and entertaining half came to a close with Megginson forcing a save from Stack and Wotherspoon looping a header on to the roof of the net.
Hibs then might have had a penalty as Eoin Doyle forced a corner and a Pa Saikou Kujabi cross created havoc in the area, with Matt Doherty and Garry O’Connor challenging for a ball which appeared to hit Considine on the arm.
Referee Crawford Allan waved away appeals. A diving Reynolds header turned an inswinging Pa Saikou free-kick over and George Francomb’s resulting corner was well directed, but no-one could apply the decisive touch.
The visitors started the second period strongly and dominated possession without necessarily putting the home defence under any real pressure. The balance of play changed when Doherty was given a yellow card for what appeared a perfectly timed tackle and that sense of injustice drove Hibs on.
A stramash in the 61st minute resulted in Hibs hitting the post and O’Hanlon unable to knock the rebound into the net. The ball broke loose to Claros on the edge of the penalty area and he struck the sweetly only for a red shirt to deflect it just wide of goal.
Hibernian put the Aberdeen defence under almost constant pressure as the game ebbed towards full time however they could find no way through a resolute visiting defence.
Pa Saikou and his Hibs are now lying 11th in the 12-team-table with 18 points garnered from 25 games and up next for them, is another home game at Easter Road Stadium where they host Scottish Premier League winners Celtic.