Soccer

Joe Newell gives Hibernian late hope after Conference League defeat in Andorra

Joe Newell scored what could be a crucial goal for Hibernian (Alan Rennie/PA)
Joe Newell scored what could be a crucial goal for Hibernian (Alan Rennie/PA) Joe Newell scored what could be a crucial goal for Hibernian (Alan Rennie/PA)

Joe Newell’s stoppage-time free-kick gave Hibernian a lifeline during an embarrassing 2-1 Europa Conference League defeat in Andorra.

David Marshall’s howler had left Hibernian facing an uphill battle to avoid an early exit as home side Inter d’Escaldes went two ahead in the 71st minute.

A day after Hibs announced Marshall would hand the captaincy back to Paul Hanlon after a season with the armband, the 38-year-old’s fumble allowed the home side to double their lead in the second qualifying round first leg.

Marshall had been left utterly exposed for the home side’s 15th-minute opener and there were very few positives for manager Lee Johnson in his first European game until Newell’s intervention.

The midfielder drove a low effort from 20 yards after Elie Youan was tripped on the edge of the box and the home goalkeeper could not keep it out.

Hibs still face a fight to overturn their deficit and set up a clash against Swedes Djurgardens or Swiss side Luzern in the next round.

Youan and Josh Campbell had efforts comfortably saved early on for Hibs but there were warning signs of the consequences of slack play inside their own half shortly before the opening goal.

Marshall was called into action to make a good stop before Hibs again soon found themselves under pressure.

Lewis Stevenson was left out of position after trying to win a header near the halfway line and Ander El Haddadi had space and time to pick out a man when Rocky Bushiri’s attempts to cover failed to put enough pressure on the wide player.

Right-back Adrian Gallego was completely unmarked and knocked home from close range after Marshall had made an excellent stop from his initial effort.

Hibs struggled to make any inroads for the rest of the half and Christian Doidge replaced Elias Melkerson at half-time to join debutant Adam Le Fondre up front while Newell came on for Dylan Levitt.

Doidge had a decent shot parried and then misdirected a header from 12 yards but Hibs generally laboured in possession.

There was much worse to come for Johnson’s side after a goal kick bounced over Stevenson’s head and allowed El Haddadi to get a speculative first-time effort on target.

Marshall got down to make what looked like an easy save but the former Scotland goalkeeper fumbled and Jean-Luc had the simple task of tapping home from close range.

Hibs discovered some urgency as they looked for a lifeline. Le Fondre forced a good save from a header and both he and Doidge missed chances before Newell netted.

Youan’s ball across the face of goal threatened to set up a late leveller but Hibs were defeated.