Hibsboss Nick Montgomery hailed Martin Boyle for making the difference in a tightvictory over Kilmarnock – and said the Socceroos star’s performance justifiedhis decision to leave him on the bench in midweek.
Boyle,who had picked up a knee injury in last weekend’s Viaplay Cup semi-final lossto Aberdeen at Hampden, was an unused sub in Wednesday night’s disappointing2-2 draw against St Mirren in Paisley.
Restoredto the starting XI at Easter Road today, he provided the assist for JoshCampbell’s second goal in as many games, as Hibs ended a seven-game winlessstreak by seeing off Killie.
Montysaid his talismanic attacker had proven his value again, saying: “Martin is aspecial player - and we have to protect him.
“Comingoff in the semi-final, he took a little knock, and we didn’t risk him at StMirren.
“Wecan’t take risks on a player of Martin’s stature at the club - and it was theright decision to leave him on the bench at St MIrren. It freshened himup.
“I could’ve played him at St Mirren, but it was possibly a bit too soonafter the semi-final.
“We decided not to take that risk, and today we got our just rewardsbecause we had a fresh Martin Boyle - and he looked dangerous every time he goton the attack. He was unfortunate not to score himself.
“He has had a disallowed goal, possiblepenalty call and a couple at the end where he just lost his footing.
“Martin is a big player for us andit’s important that we don’t take risks when it’s not necessary.”
Boyleis due to fly out to Melbourne on international duty this morning, Montgomery –who had raised the possibility of asking the Aussies to go easy on his mostvaluable player – saying: “I’m not thedoctor but I will go down and have that conversation.
“If he’s fit, no problem, he’ll be raring to go with the Socceroos. Ifnot, he’ll probably stay.
“Getting through 90 minutes probably tells you he’ll be desperate to go,and he’s a big player for them as well.
“If it was up to me, he’d stay - and we’d rest him! But they’ve got goodmedical staff there, so hopefully it’s two weeks of him recovering for a few daysand getting some minutes.”
Pleased to finally see his team holdon to a winning position after a brutal run of dropped points, Montgomery said:“It was a professional performance.
“Coming off the back of Wednesdaynight and conceding an injury-time equaliser, it was important to get a win.
“Clean sheet, three points and wecould have made it easier. We could have killed it off earlier.
“Butwe limited them to one shot on target and they are a very physical and directside.
“Wehave had unfortunate incidents not going our way - but it was important to getthree points going into the international break. And also, we didn’t getany new injuries, which is good.”
Killie boss Derek McInnes identifiedone key factor in the result, saying: “Martin Boyle is the one who makes thedifference – and his part in the game was pretty decisive.”