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Hibernian 2 Livingston 1: El Alagui's lucky £1 coin again proves its worth

HIGH finance was a subject difficult to escape when Hibernian opened their season in the relatively straitened arena of the SPFL Championship.

Mark Oxley celebrates his goal with Jordan Forster. Picture: SNS
Mark Oxley celebrates his goal with Jordan Forster. Picture: SNS

In the end, though, everything boiled down to the passing on of a £1 coin.

There is talk of takeovers in the air around Leith. The tar and feathers are already being prepared for Rod Petrie. Certainly, those intent on tempting Sir Tom Farmer to sell up are very evidently positioning themselves.

David Low, the financial advisor leading a consortium that has already submitted a £3.5m offer for HFC Holdings Ltd, was in the main stand to take in this win over Livingston.

Paul Kane was there, too. Sitting up at the back with his family, waving to players and ex-players and networking admirably. The former Hibs midfielder is one of those promoting a community-ownership model and has been involved in dialogue with Farmer and his people for quite some time.

Leeann Dempster, appointed chief executive in April, appears to be making some progress in reconnecting the club with the community and its history. Alan Stubbs, the new manager, is offering early signs that he may be able to rebuild things on the park. Securing the first home victory since February was a good start.

For all that, this was not a great display by the home side. Livingston hit the bar after 10 minutes, when Declan Gallagher got his head to a corner from Jason Talbot, and there was a distinct sigh of relief when Farid El Alagui nodded home a Liam Craig corner kick at the other end six minutes later.

Hibs' second goal, on 18 minutes, was just ridiculous. Mark Oxley, their goalkeeper, launched a long kick-out upfield. His opposite number Darren Jamieson was miles off his line and more concerned with the movement of El Alagui and it was clear from the moment it took a bounce that the ball was going to sail over his head and land in the net.

El Alagui was certainly happy to celebrate his part in Jamieson's downfall. Having missed two great chances that should have buried Rangers at Ibrox last midweek, there was a secret behind his clear sense of contentment on Saturday night.

The France-born Moroccan found a £1 coin as he warmed up for his first match with Falkirk in 2011. Lee Bullen, the then assistant coach, held on to it during matches for him there and duly presented it to be kissed when the striker had scored a goal.

Darren Jackson kept it in his pocket at Dundee United and, after much deliberation, Hibs first-team coach John Doolan was given responsibility for looking after it only 24 hours before Livingston came calling.

"I had my final talk on Friday and, after speaking to everybody, John was the man for the job," revealed El Alagui. "It worked on Saturday, so I feel like I made a good choice."

Hibs passed up a handful of chances to put the game completely out of sight towards the end of the first half, but they lost their way a little during the second half and conceded in the 59th minute when Gallagher sidefooted the ball home from inside the area after Oxley had touched an effort from Keaghan Jacobs on to the crossbar.

Livingston did not threaten sufficiently after that to deserve a draw, but they did cause problems. El Alagui concedes his side did begin to go into their shells a little, but he sees enough to suggest they can challenge for the Championship providing they learn to remain on the front foot.

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