Brian Graham could have done little more on his Saturday afternoon audition to convince Ross County’s coaching staff he deserves a run in the side.
On his return to Easter Road, Graham came on with 25 minutes to go and helped turn the tide of the game in County’s favour, after they looked blunt as an attacking force.
His goal dragged County back into a game that looked lost and he could have levelled immediately afterwards.
His presence caused a fragile Hibernian back-line problems and, once the first goal went in, you sensed they were ready to crumble. Joe Chalmers got the decisive goal with 90 minutes approaching to earn the visitors a point.
Owing much to the early-season form of Ross Stewart, Graham has yet to start a game in the Premiership.
His last start came in the Betfred Cup at the end of July against Forfar.
With Stewart not in the squad in the capital and Billy Mckay looking isolated up front by himself, Graham has done himself no harm with his match-saving display.
Co-manager Steven Ferguson said: “Brian made a fantastic impact when he came on. He always gets a chance and finds himself in an area where he causes problems. He got his goal and, if you’re being honest, if you want anyone on the end of that cross it’s Brian.
“That’s his bread and butter.
“We’ll credit him for the goal he did get. He invigorated us and played a huge part in us getting back in the game. It would have been very easy for the players to down tools after last week (when County were beaten 6-0 by Celtic) and being 2-0 down.
“It was very clear the next goal was going to be the important one. It feels more like three points than one point – the players deserve a lot of credit for the way they played in the second half.”
County had the edge over the hosts physically in the first half but, when the ball was won, their transitions were slow. Mckay had Ewan Henderson playing off him but often there was little intensity in getting bodies up to support him.
There was an occasion where Foster had the ball in space just inside his own half with opportunity to break but had only Mckay ahead of him. Impetus was lost and Foster had to recycle the ball.
The best chances came Hibs’ way, with Melker Hallberg hitting the bar from a free-kick and Ross Laidlaw beating away an effort from Florian Kamberi.
Hibs were crying out for natural width and in Daryl Horgan, they were provided it at half-time.
His impact was immediate as, racing on to Jason Naismith’s long ball, he escaped Sean Kelly’s attention and was able to slot beyond Laidlaw.
County’s passive nature was giving encouragement to a Hibs side who now needed little of it.
They profited further from the visitors’ slackness to double their advantage, with Josh Vela capitalising on a poor pass by Lewis Spence to nick the ball off Ross Draper, before feeding Scott Allan. There was a half-hearted attempt to close the midfielder down and he duly punished County, picking out Laidlaw’s bottom corner.
Graham came on and offered County the attacking presence they had been lacking, curling in a spectacular effort from the edge of the box and then planting a header from Kelly’s cross wide.
Chalmers, another player left sitting on the bench, made his presence felt with a sweet, impactful strike that sparked celebrations in the pocket of County fans and fury around the rest of Easter Road.
Ferguson added: “We could do better for our part for the goals and the last thing you want is to be two goals down.
“But we’ve scored late goals in the Championship and scored late goals in the Premiership. You’re always that optimist, that you may get that last chance.
“We’re trying to encourage the boys to shoot more – it’s a thing we feel we’re not doing.
“We look for a final pass or a reverse pass. To see Joe step on to it and have a shot at goal, they might start listening to us now!”