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Scot League Cup First Round

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Fenlon: Zoubir star of show

Hibernian midfielder Liam Craig grabbed his first ever hat-trick in the League Cup win over Stranraer but boss Pat Fenlon believes it is the performance of winger Abdellah Zoubir that will get the Leith fans talking.

Last Updated: 25/09/13 at 07:46 Post Comment

Pat Fenlon: Praise for his players

Pat Fenlon: Praise for his players

Craig struck three times in a breathless 5-3 win for the Easter Road side as the plucky League One visitors gave as good as they got against their top-flight opponents.

But it was winger Zoubir who caught the eye with a series of fleet-footed dribbles and a deflected first-half strike after Fenlon threw him in for his first start a month after switching from French Ligue 2 club FC Istres.

He said: "Zoubi gives us something different. It was a good game to get him in tonight and give him a taste of the atmosphere here. I think the supporters will enjoy him over the course of the season.

"It's unusual that Liam got the three goals but the fans will probably go home talking about Zoubi.

"The first half in particular, I thought we got him on the ball and he is definitely hard to play against. He has really good feet, his balance is good and he is strong. He even did well in the air for us and almost scored off a header."

Stranraer knocked Ross County out of the competition in the previous round and took a shock lead in the third-round tie as Jamie Longworth headed them in front after four minutes.

Craig nodded home a leveller after nine minutes before Zoubir's strike and an own goal from Scott Rumsby put them two to the good at the break.

Former St Johnstone midfielder Craig grabbed a second two minutes after the restart but Hibs were panicking as Chris Aitken - brother of Stranraer boss Stephen - curled home a fine strike 60 seconds later and then home defender Michael Nelson put through his own net on 54 minutes to close the gap to 4-3.

But Craig blasted home his 50th career goal from the penalty spot after Rumsby handball to complete his treble and see Hibs through to the quarter-finals.

Fenlon added: "We're delighted to be in the next round. We knew it was going to be a tough game for us. In the last round they beat Ross County so we were on a hiding to nothing.

"We knew we had to win the game and that we should win the game. But we have to give them a lot of credit for their performance.

"I also have to give my own players a lot of credit as we played well at times.

"We reacted well to losing the early goal but the confidence is in them right now and you can see that from how they came back from that early set back."

Stephen Aitken said of his Blues players: "I'm proud of the lads. Although we got beat I thought they were great, especially in the second half. When it went to 4-1 it could have been difficult but we rolled our sleeves up and at 4-3 we had a couple of chances that could have made a difference."

"People have criticised us when we have been two negative and now we are getting criticised for being too attack minded. You can't win.

"It was a decent game tonight and I think you have got to give Stranraer credit as well. They played really well and scored some decent goals. There were chances at both ends and the score could have been a bit higher, maybe 7-6.

"There is a few of them who take penalties after training. Liam, Rowan and James all want to take them but they sorted it out themselves and let Liam take it.

"We're delighted to be in the next round. We knew it was going to be a tough game for us. In the last round they beat Ross County so we were on a hiding to nothing.

"We knew we had to win the game and that we should win the game. But we have to give them a lot of credit for their performance.

"I also have to give my own players a lot of credit as we played well at times.

"We reacted well to losing the early goal but the confidence is in them right now and you can see that from how they came back from that early set back."

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