SPFL Championship: HIBERNIAN 2 DUNFERMLINE 2: 25/02/17
Hot on the heels of a cup win over their city rivals in midweek, Neil Lennon stressed that his side needed to take the performance and attitude into this Championship match against Dunfermline Athletic.
A welcome sight for the Pars was the return of Andy Geggan, he was the only change from the side that lost out at Hamilton in the William Hill Scottish Cup. Hibernian`s starting eleven saw two changes from the cup replay, Fraser Fyvie and Andrew Shinnie taking the places of Marvin Bartley and the injured Chris Humphrey.
The home side kicked off attacking the goal in front of the faithful away support but it was the Fifers who produced the first chance, a Nicky Clark flick playing John Herron into the Hibees box but he just could not get in a killer shot.
The home side then threatened but fell foul of the offside trap. Efforts from Shinnie and McGinn were included in a series of shots all blocked in the fifth minute but when a Jason Cummings cross came in from the left just a minute later Martin BOYLE stuck the ball into the Pars net at the far post. 1-0
The early goal was just what the visitors wanted to avoid and Sean Murdoch denied Hibs a second in 11th minute saving a well connected shot from Cummings. Another five minutes past before Hibs threatened again. Shinnie fought off the attentions of two markers to break in from the left but blasted his shot from an acute angle when a cut back might have yielded more.
A Hibs corner from the right in 21st minute was hit long by Cummings to McGinn but he could only force another from the left. This one travelled through the box but was returned giving McGinn another chance that he failed to do do much with.
Boyle looked dangerous every time he got the ball wide and in 24th minute he rounded Jason Talbot and as he tried to cut the ball back was tugged on the shoulder by the full back. Referee John Beaton awarded a penalty and Jason CUMMINGS stroked the ball into the right side of the net to double the capital side`s advantage. 2-0
It looked serious for the Pars but within two minutes they had clawed the deficit back to one. Paul McMullan and Clark exchanged passes before the latter`s through ball was received by McMULLAN and he got the better of David Gray as the Hibs captain failed to connect, to run in on goal to finish. 2-1
The goal certainly lifted the Pars and McMullan latched on to another pass, broke through on the right channel only for keeper Ofir Marciano to turn the ball over for a corner. McGinn was shown a yellow card for a needless foul on Michael Moffat in 37 minutes suggesting the home side had lost a bit of their early confidence. The free kick tried to find Callum Morris on the left side of the box but the setpiece failed to alter the scoreline.
Five minutes from the interval Wedderburn, Talbot and McMullan got it together deep down the left allowing McMullan to centre but Higginbotham blasted the shot high into the stand. Next McMullan went down in a challenge 25 yards out and the referee`s decision to award the free kick was not popular with the home fans. Clark smashed his effort from the free kick into the four man Hibs wall and the only other noteworthy event before half time was a Fyvie tackle on Higginbotham. Both were shown yellow cards although the Pars man was rather harshly punished for being tackled but Moffat was possibly a little lucky to get away with his part in the fracas.
The first half stats showed the visitors with 52% possession and it was certainly a different match after McMullan`s goal.
Half Time: Hibernian 2 Dunfermline 1
The second half could not have started any better. Moffat sent a ball over from the left, it evaded Clark but HIGGINBOTHAM was on hand to crash the ball home after just 27 seconds after the restart. 2-2
Hibs knew all about it as the Pars turned up the pressure. Geggan got in on the right side of the Hibs box and Moffat rattled the crossbar with a shot that came out only for Clark to see his effort cleared off the line by the boot of the Israeli keeper.
Higginbotham lobbed over a 56th minute free kick from the right that Morris headed over the bar. At the other end there was then some serious defending to be done as Herron made an unconvincing clearance but Wedderburn came to the rescue.
On the hour Shinnie tried to cut in from the left but the attentions of Morris meant that his shot from 25 yards out was wildly off target. Back at the other end McMullan was taken late on the edge of the box but no decision was given. Then McMullan showed good composure on the right side of the six yard box, sending the ball across the face of goal but it was Clark and not the ball that ended up in the net.
Murdoch was kept alert tipping over a Darren McGregor header and then the keeper held Shinnie`s attempt from the resultant corner. Clark gathered a Talbot cross from his own half and was narrowly wide with his 70th minute shot across the face of the Hibs goal.
The Pars took the game to the Hibees with Moffat`s chip into the centre of the box narrowly evading Clark. Geggan pumped further balls in from the right and Herron enjoyed possession in the opposition box but the route to goal was proving to be elusive.
With quarter of an hour to go the home chorus of Glory Glory to the Hibees seemed more optimistic than likely. McGinn had a pop from 30 yards and despite a deflection Murdoch held with ease.
Boyle`s run ten minutes from time forced a corner on the right off Ashcroft but that was successfully defended. Moffat was next to threaten after Hibs attack was broken down and Dunfermline swept forward with just the back four in front of them. Unfortunate that was enough to keep the Fifers out and McMullan went down requiring treatment from physio Kenny Murray.
The on loan Celt was back on to mop up as Cummings tried to get in behind the defence and then he won an 87th minute corner that was not well used. There was a fright in the first minute of thethree added minutes as sub James Keatings cross evaded a Grant Holt and Murdoch smothered the loose ball.
The home fans met the final whistle with jeers of disappointment and full marks to the Pars who came back from a very bad looking situation two down after 24 minutes to take their first points of the season off the Edinburgh club.
HIBERNIAN: Ofir Marciano: David Gray (c), Darren McGregor, Liam Fontaine (Marvin Bartley 34), Lewis Stevenson, Martin Boyle, John McGinn, Fraser Fyvie (Callum Crane 65), Andrew Shinnie (James Keatings 89): Grant Holt, Jason Cummings.
SUBS NOT USED: Brian Graham, Scott Martin, Callum Donaldson, Ross Laidlaws (GK)
SCORERS: Boyle (6), Cummings (24 pen)
YELLOW CARD: McGinn (37), Fyvie (45), Stevenson (84)
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Andy Geggan (c), Callum Morris, Lee Ashcroft, Jason Talbot: Nat Wedderburn: Kallum Higginbotham, John Herron, Paul McMullan,: Nicky Clark, Michael Moffat
SUBS NOT USED: Gavin Reilly, Rhys McCabe, Joe Cardle, Michael Paton, David Hopkirk, Callum Fordyce, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: McMullan (26), Higginbotham (46)
YELLOW CARD: Higginbotham (45), Herron (63), Geggan (84)
REFEREE: John Beaton
WEATHER: Overcast 9C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (home) v Dumbarton, Saturday 4th March 2017, kick off 3.00pm
Betfred Cup v Peterhead: Saturday 22nd July 2017, kick off 3.00pm