League Cup: Hibernian beat Alloa to top Group D; Ross County progress

Simon Murray celebrates scoring one of his brace of goals
Simon Murray grabbed his sixth and seventh goals since joining from Dundee United this summer

Simon Murray grabbed another brace of goals to see Hibernian safely past Alloa 3-0 and into the second round of the Scottish League Cup.

Teenager Fraser Murray opened the scoring from close range for Neil Lennon's side before Alan Cook's effort for the hosts was cleared off the line.

Simon Murray then met Martin Boyle's cross to increase Hibs' lead before heading home his seventh of the season.

Hibs progressed as Group D leaders with Ross County joining them as runners-up.

The Highlanders could only draw 0-0 at League One side Arbroath but won a penalty shoot-out 5-4 at Gayfield to progress as one of the four best runners-up.

Danny Denholm twice tested County keeper Scott Fox in normal time but the visitors came closest to a breakthrough, Ryan Dow's goalbound shot cleared off the line by Ricky Little while Arbroath keeper David Hutton saved from Tim Chow and Craig Curran.

Arbroath had penalty appeals waved away when Omar Kadar's shot seemed to strike an arm, while County substitute Thomas Mikkelsen had two late efforts kept out by Hutton to send the game to a shoot-out, Chow scoring the winning penalty after two Fox saves.

Murrays sting Wasps to leave Hibs minted

The pace of Boyle, combined with the quality and exuberance of Fraser Murray, had Alloa on the back foot from the start.

After 15 minutes they made the breakthrough, Boyle supplying the ball for Simon Murray to cross into the danger area where namesake Fraser fired home.

The 18-year-old almost made it two but his chip from 16 yards was tipped away by Neil Parry in the home goal.

Only a goal-line clearance from Darren McGregor denied Alloa an equaliser, but the visitors killed off the hosts with a second goal just after the hour.

Fraser Murray won the ball in midfield and sprayed it wide to Boyle, and the winger's inch-perfect cross was tapped home with ease by Simon Murray at the back post.

The striker kept up his excellent scoring record since arriving from Dundee United this summer when he notched number three, his seventh goal of the new campaign.

Lewis Stevenson curled the ball in from the left flank and Murray ghosted in beyond the Alloa defence to nod the ball home off the inside of the post.

Post-match reaction:

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon was "delighted" with his side's 3-0 victory, praising the performance of 18-year-old Murray.

Fraser Murray fires home for Hibs
Fraser Murray, 18, scored his second goal of the season

"He's a great little player, we have high hopes for him," Lennon said. "He is deceptive; he is quite slight but has good feet and not only scored the goal but laid on the second with a great pass.

"I thought Martin Boyle was outstanding again as well. He has taken his game onto another level at the moment. He beats people at pace and still finds the pass - he has really improved his game and I am delighted with him."

Victory saw Hibs top the group but Lennon sounded a cautionary note ahead of the Edinburgh side's return to the Premiership next Saturday.

"I am so pleased with the players so far," he told Radio Scotland. "They have done everything I asked of them and won again in convincing fashion.

"We are going into the season with a lot of optimism but the real test is ahead of us. We are playing a proven Premiership team next week [Partick Thistle] who finished sixth last season, so we are not getting carried away.

"We have still got bits and pieces to do but the core of the squad is good. They have performed well for the club over the last two years and we just want that to continue.

"Last season the pressure of getting promotion was a bit of a millstone around the players' necks, and the Scottish Cup win [in 2016] was another millstone that has been lifted. So psychologically the club is in a very good place."

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