Hibs cash in on Elgin errors
ELGIN City gave Hibs a good test but it was the Premiership side that progressed in the Betfred Cup with a 2-0 win at Borough Briggs.
In front of a 2106 crowd and a wider BT Sport TV audience, City saw two defensive errors exploited by their Edinburgh visitors.
But the League 2 side competed well with their full-time opponents and manager Gavin Price praised his team's efforts.
He was left to reflect on the blunders which gifted Paul Heckinbottom's side both goals on a rainy night in Moray.
Keen to stay on level terms for as long as possible, City crucially switched off in the 10th minute to allow Daryl Horgan to steal in behind and cross for Joe Newell to put the Hibees in front.
Then just after the hour mark, with Elgin pushing for an equaliser, a wayward passback by Rabin Omar presented Florian Kamberi with a clear passage on goal to fire home the clinching second goal.
"You don't get many chances in the game to take big scalps like tonight and I'm disappointed for the players," said Price. "They felt the same as ourselves that there was just a wee something there for us.
"If we had kept it at 0-0 for longer, would Hibs have treated the game differently as it went on? Would they have had more frustration in their game and taken more risks?
"Unfortunately we didn't get to that stage because of those goals we gave away.
"But I'm proud of the players because we were playing against a good side out there and we didn't look out of place."
With BT Sport pundits Chris Sutton and Stephen Craigan doing the big match build up next to the Lossie Green End goals, Borough Briggs was under the nationwide spotlight for Friday night football action.
There was a big game atmosphere when the teams came out in front of the sponsors logos, filmed from all angles by a team of cameras.
Hibs needed a win to top the group and qualify for the last sixteen, while Elgin had to gain a two-goal victory for a chance of qualifying.
It was always going to be a long-shot for City, who nearly fell behind after just three minutes when Kamberi fizzed a shot just past from distance.
However the Hibees did break the deadlock on ten minutes, the home side were caught having a Friday night nap.
An Omar tackle midway inside his own half drew claims for a foul from some Hibs players but ref Willie Collum waved play on, and as the Elgin rearguard hesitated, Hibs didn't.
Horgan seized possession on the by-line and crossed for Englishman Newell to guide the ball past an exposed Tom McHale.
Elgin recovered from their error to limit Hibs opportunities with McHale saving well from Kamberi on 26 minutes.
A couple of margin offside decisions denied Elgin possible openings with Kane Hester and Shane Sutherland flagged in dubious circumstances.
Evening up the score at the other end, standside assistant Douglas Ross wrongly ruled a Kamberi goal to be offside and disallowed his 39th minute effort.
Elgin's Omar was inches away from connecting with a Sutherland ball across the goalmouth, and the midfielder had the final effort of the first half with a curled strike over the Hibs bar.
Omar came even closer to a goal five minutes after the break, taking a Hester pass into space for a fierce drive which Hibs keeper Ofir Marciano palmed away.
McHale saved a poor Kamberi shot from eight yards while at the other end Marciano had to move quickly to thwart Hester when the striker burst through the centre on a Sutherland pass.
On 62 minutes the away side grabbed a second goal which came from an Elgin throw which Omar accepted, only to guide a mis-hit pass back to McHale for Kamberi to race on to and slot into the net.
Kamberi scored twice for Hibs in a 4-0 Scottish Cup win over Elgin at Easter Road in January and was a thorn in their side again.
McHale's best save came from a Stevie Mallan powerful strike which the Elgin keeper pushed aside.
Sub Kyle Willis fired over for City while Hibs went down to ten men late on when Martin Boyle limped off after all three subs had been used.
The capital men still has the best chance to score again, Newell's blast bringing the best out of McHale again.
McHale was one of City's star performers and said after the match: "It was a great experience and a great atmosphere but we know we've to move on and get ready for the league now."
Elgin City 0 Hibernian 2 (Joe Newell 10, Florian Kamberi 62)
Elgin (4-4-2): McHale, Wilson (Willis 78), McDonald, Bronsky, Spark; Cooper, Dingwall, MacEwan (O'Keefe 59), Omar (LOveland 88); Hester, Sutherland. Subs: McGowan, Ballam, Scott, Dunn.
Hibs (4-4-2): Marciano; Whittaker, Jackson, McGregor, Mackie; Horgan (Boyle 67), Mallan, Vela, Newell; Doidge (Allan 76), Kamberi (Shaw 82). Subs: Hanlon, James, Murray, Maxwell.
Ref: Willie Collum