Hibernian 3 Motherwell 1

Alan Temple

at Easter Road

GUTSY, innovative and attacking. If Jack Ross wanted to post a statement of intent in his first outing in the Easter Road dugout, this did the trick. Emphatically.

The hosts displayed admirable character to battle back from an early Liam Polwarth strike, scored three classy goals and struck the post. Scott Allan (inset, below) was irrepressible and Christian Doidge can’t stop scoring.

Moreover, Hibs ascended into the top six with this breathless triumph. Crisis? What crisis.

By the time a rousing rendition of “Jack Ross’ green and white army” echoed around the stadium it was clear that the new head coach had already succeeded in lifting the mood. There are rays of sunshine on Leith.

“It does help to get off to a good start – it helps to get that buy-in from the players,” said Ross afterwards. “I’m pleased because there were parts of the performance which were very good. I’m still trying to get a feel for the players

but we got little bits of information across and the players took that on board very well.

“It was hard work for them to play the way we wanted and be as brave as we wanted in forward areas, so I’m delighted.”

Yet, the outlook did not appear

so bright with nine minutes on the clock. Jermaine Hylton danced through the challenges of Vykintas Slivka and Jason Naismith before finding Jake Carroll. The left-back’s low shot struck the base of the post but Polwarth was on hand to tap in.

Without a home league win since the opening day of the season prior to this match, Hibs could have wilted. They did not.

Doidge, for so long the poster-boy for what was perceived to be a summer of errant signings, looks reborn. A tireless runner, physically imposing and, now showing a little confidence as he dovetails with Flo Kamberi – he is beginning to illustrate why Hibs shelled out £350,000 to bring him north.

The towering attacker bundled the ball over the line to restore parity after a Joe Newell shot was only partially blocked by Well keeper Mark Gillespie. His fourth goal in two games.

“Christian has impressed me with his maturity and how much he is enjoying being at the club,” added Ross. “He believes in himself and has shown enough that he will do well this season. He has trained really well and his all-round performance was very good.”

Kamberi concluded a rather tumultuous week in fine fashion by completing the comeback.

The rangy attacker received his maiden call-up for the Albania national team but was denied the chance to make his debut in either fixture against Andorra or France due to an insurmountable tangle of red tape. However, it is unlikely to be his final opportunity at that level, particularly if he continues to ripple the net as he did yesterday – swivelling sharply in the box and firing into the roof of the net following an excellent Jason Naismith cross.

Motherwell were denied a wonderful chance to equalise in the second half when John Beaten waved away claims for a penalty when Polwarth appeared to be hauled down by Ryan Porteous.

Hibs took full advantage of that reprieve. Stevie Mallan, such an impressive performer under Ross at St Mirren, climbed from the bench to find Daryl Horgan on the counter-attack and the Irishman did the rest, surging into the box before firing beyond Mark Gillespie.

Evidently determined to make an impact in his second-half cameo, Mallan then struck the base of the post. Four-one would have flattered Hibs. Indeed, 3-1 probably did, given Motherwell were far from outclassed. However, they failed to carve their hosts open aside from Polwarth’s strike, and were dozy in defence.

“Football’s about what you do in both boxes,” said defeated boss Stephen Robinson. “We had lots of good play until the last third – decision-making, hitting the front man, not finishing chances.

“Then we don’t stay with our runners.”