Nick Montgomery’s reign as Hibs head coach started with a point at Kilmarnock after the hosts recovered from trailing 2-0 with half an hour to play. 

Hibs took the lead after just eight minutes when Lewis Miller’s effort from a Jimmy Jeggo knockdown following a corner found the net off goalkeeper Will Dennis after initially hitting the post, and Dylan Vente made it two shortly before the hour mark when he found the bottom corner. But straight away Killie hit back through Kyle Vassell who pounced on the rebound after David Marshall had blocked Brad Lyons’ effort. 

And with ten minutes to play Joe Wright glanced in a header from Danny Armstrong’s corner to restore parity. Both sides went for a winner in a frantic finale but had to settle for a share of the points as Hibs were made to pay for passing up a series of chances in the first half. 

Big selection calls

Whenever a club has a new manager at the helm, the first team selection is always keenly awaited. Montgomery showed he had no problem with making big calls, particularly in dropping captain Paul Hanlon in favour of Rocky Bushiri, and rewarding Christian Doidge with a start following his efforts against Aberdeen before the international break. 

READ MORE: Nick Montgomery details his ambitious vision for Hibs

Despite his fine finish at Pittodrie, fellow forward Adam Le Fondre started on the bench, with Dylan Vente holding onto his place and repaying the coaching staff’s faith with a goal - his first on cinch Premiership duty but his third in all competitions so far. 

Goal kick quirk

Throughout the game Hibs were taking goal kicks by having a defender pass the ball to David Marshall, who would then attempt to pick out a Hibs player. It was fine in the first half but when Killie started to press in the second half for an equaliser it became a bit of a dangerous approach, proven by Marshall clattering the ball off Vassell late on. Perhaps it was a suggestion from new goalkeeping coach Miguel Miranda but in the second 45 most of the kick outs either spiralled out of play or fell to a Kilmarnock player.

Return of Tavares

Also significant was the return of Jair Tavares to a senior matchday squad for the first time since April. The Portuguese winger was playing development-squad games in the summer but was brought back into the fold, and was a late replacement for Youan who appeared to pick up an injury. There wasn’t a lot of time for the attacker to have much say in the outcome of the game but could the arrival of former Benfica coach Sergio Raimundo reinvigorate the winger and help him realise his potential? Hibs are crying out for options in the wide areas and if they can get Tavares firing then it will add a further dimension to an already impressive attacking arsenal. 

Hail Mary changes

Some managers might have been happy to settle for a point, but with Kilmarnock scenting blood, and a winner, Montgomery went for one last attacking roll of the dice as he brought on Tavares and Jordan Obita for the final few minutes. It made for a rather hectic end to the game as both sides went for a winner that ultimately, Kilmarnock came closest to getting.

The suggestion from the A-League is that there could be a more gung-ho approach in the search of three points. It certainly won't be dull under Montgomery.

More than hard work needed

From day one Montgomery has been hammering home his mantra of ‘working hard’ and we saw that in full flow at Rugby Park. This Hibs team has a lot of legs with the likes of Martin Boyle, Élie Youan, Lewis Miller but even the likes of Joe Newell and Lewis Stevenson appeared to have found a new lease of life. There was far more energy in the Hibs’ showing than we’ve seen so far this season. Perhaps the international break came at a useful time, maybe the ‘new manager bounce’ was in effect. 

But there were still too many unforced errors and passing up of chances, and when Wright grabbed the equaliser there was a feeling of inevitability about it as Hibs appeared to regress in defence. That being said, it is still early in Montgomery’s tenure and this 90-plus minutes will have given him food for thought on the training ground ahead of the visit of St Johnstone next week. 

Kilmarnock were much improved in the second period but the alarm bells will have been sounding in the dugout at the similarity to the Livingston game last month when Hibs scored, only to immediately concede.