Boyle’s penalty earns Hibs comeback victory at Motherwell

The home side were twice ahead through headed goals from Kevin Van Veen and Bevis Mugabi.

Boyle’s penalty earns Hibs comeback victory at Motherwell SNS Group

Hibernian winger Martin Boyle hit the winner from the penalty spot during a five-goal thriller against Motherwell at a vibrant Fir Park.

The home side were twice ahead through headed goals from Kevin Van Veen and Bevis Mugabi but Hibs hit back through Kyle Magennis and substitute Christian Doidge.

Boyle’s winner came in the 70th minute following Stephen O’Donnell’s handball but the game was influenced just as much by the 5,240 fans who were spaced out inside Fir Park, including 1,810 Hibs supporters.

If anyone needed evidence of the difference supporters make, this game provided it. It seemed to be more competitive, edgy and exciting than anything that happened in empty grounds in the cinch Premiership last season.

Referee David Munro struggled to keep control at times, booking eight players and it could have been more, with Hibs midfielder Joe Newell in particular getting away with more than his fair share of fouls.

Driven on by the atmosphere they missed last season, players squared up to each other, grappled after corners were cleared and harangued the referee.

Both sets of fans did not have long to wait to celebrate a goal. Van Veen headed home a brilliant whipped cross by Jake Carroll in the 12th minute and Hibs were level five minutes later.

Kevin Nisbet sent Paul McGinn racing down the right with no Motherwell player tracking and his low cross went through a crowd of bodies before Magennis stabbed home from six yards.

The visitors remained on top. Paul Hanlon headed just over from a corner and Jamie Murphy burst clean through but over-hit his lob with goalkeeper Liam Kelly stranded.

Motherwell regained the lead in the 29th minute from another Carroll delivery as the left-back curled a free-kick to the back post for Mugabi to head home.

Hibs had a strong penalty claim denied when Carroll bundled Magennis over after the midfielder had got in behind and was preparing to shoot.

Motherwell survived a couple of scares just after the break when Carroll nicked the ball off Boyle’s toes and Kelly tipped over Murphy’s strike.

The pressure paid off in the 56th minute when Doidge, just on for Alex Gogic, slid in to convert after Nisbet’s measured shot had come off the inside of a post.

Hibs looked set to kick on but the hosts hit back. New Motherwell captain O’Donnell hit the side-netting and Van Veen slipped Kaiyne Woolery through only for the forward to hit Hibs goalkeeper Matt Macey’s legs with his effort.

The Dutchman strengthened his emerging status as a favourite of the returning Well fans by leaving McGinn and Ryan Porteous tangled together on the ground after two sublime touches.

It was the visiting fans who were soon cheering, though, after Nisbet’s shot hit the hand of O’Donnell.

Munro pointed to the spot this time before booking O’Donnell and then Kelly for refusing to retreat back to his line as he attempted to psyche out Boyle. The mind games did not work as the Hibs winger slammed the ball into the corner just out of the goalkeeper’s reach.

Motherwell pushed for an equaliser late on but Barry Maguire shot over from 20 yards from their best opening.

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