Hibernian endured a long and frustrating evening at Easter Road before eventually defeating cinch League One side Cove Rangers 1-0 after extra time to reach the fifth round of the Scottish Cup.
Shaun Maloney’s side struggled badly in the absence of Saudi Arabia-bound talisman Martin Boyle, but substitute Kevin Nisbet spared their blushes with the only goal of the night in the 112th minute.
Australia forward Boyle watched on the from the main stand as he prepares to finalise his move to the Middle East after Hibs accepted an offer from Al-Faisaly.
Manager Maloney handed debuts to two new attackers in the shape of on-loan Celtic player Ewan Henderson and American Chris Mueller.
Fraser Fyvie, who was part of the Hibs team that won the Scottish Cup in 2016, started in the Cove midfield, but the League One leaders were without experienced duo Shay Logan and Iain Vigurs through injury.
Cove were well organised and generally kept Hibs at arm’s length throughout. The hosts’ first chance came in the 26th minute when Christian Doidge headed wide from a Josh Doig cross.
Josh Campbell saw a shot charged down from edge of the box in the 33rd minute before Doidge had a goal chalked off for offside two minutes later, although replays indicated it should have been allowed to stand.
Doidge threatened again in the 43rd minute, but his overhead kick was held by Cove goalkeeper Kyle Gourlay after Henderson’s corner had been headed into the danger area by Campbell.
Hibs should have gone ahead right on half-time, but Doig volleyed over from six yards out after being picked out by Chris Cadden’s cross from the right.
Cove made a strong start to a second half in which they had several half-chances, prompting the Hibs support to jeer their own team.
Maloney made a double substitution in the 59th minute to try and inject some life into his side when he sent on Nisbet and Jamie Murphy in place of Doidge and Henderson.
Nisbet had an early sniff of goal when Cadden sent in a dangerous delivery from the right, but Cove defender Morgyn Neill got to the ball ahead of the Scotland striker and turned it over the bar.
From the resulting Hibs corner, the visitors broke up the park and Jamie Masson tested goalkeeper Matt Macey with a low strike from the edge of the box.
The hosts looked bereft of ideas and the match went into extra time.
With Cove’s energy levels dropping, though, Hibs eventually made the breakthrough in the 112th minute when Nisbet knocked in a Doig cross from close range, sparking relief around Easter Road.
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