John Sutton was restored to his striking role and Robert McHugh moved to the bench. Right from the kick off it was clear that the visitors had come intending to take control of the game. Several minutes elapsed before we had any decent possession but the early impression was that Stokes, Nish, Riordan and Zemmama were going to be a handul.
Reynolds scores the equaliser
The first goal came in 9 minutes when Stoke's deep cross eluded Moutaouakil and Riordan was able to head back to Nish. The big striker had a simple job from the six yard line and Ruddy was beaten. Motherwell stuck to their fundamentals as they tried to cope with losing the goal. We were content to hold the ball, passing from wing to wing while probing for forward passes but rarely making any meaningful threat. Forbes came close with a trademark curler and at the other end the tricky Zemmama almost found a route through our central defence before he was smothered by some desperate tackling. Sutton fired a decent header at Stack when a better directed effort might have found success.
We drew level when O'Brien's corner was headed home by Reynolds ten minutes before half time. It was a fair reward for some honest perseverance and probably a fair reflection of the game that the teams were level at the break. Motherwell fans were aware that our lads were struggling. Our passing was loose at times, we were knocked off the ball too easily and the spark which characterised the early games of the season was missing.
The game was over as a contest ten minutes after the restart. Slack midfield play lost us the ball and Riordan made no mistake in converting his chance from inside the box. Worse was to follow. Zemmama took a free kick minutes later that Ruddy tried to beat away, instead the ball ended up in he net.
The Moroccan then enraged the Motherwell fans in the East stand when his sliding celebration was played out facing them. It seemed that the referee was going to book him be he was persuaded otherwise. Zemmama then attempted to apologise to the baying supporters but the damage had been dome and he had to endure plenty of booing for the rest of the game. It was a perfect opportunity for John Hughes to exercise some common sense and substitute him but he choose to leave him on the park.
Our double substitution of McHugh and Murphy for Jutkiewicz and O'Brien had no effect. O'Brien had some exciting moments but he had been booked. Jutkiewicz had made little contribution.
We played out the last half hour out-fought, out-gunned and out-thought and Hibs finished the game in second place in the table, not us. Fans have to accept that our young team will have off days and this was certainly one. How we play next week, when Falkirk visit, will give a good indication of our prospects for the rest of the season.