SPL v Hibernian
HIBERNIAN 3 DUNFERMLINE 1
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League
Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Stuart Dougal
Weather: Dry 8°C
Dunfermline`s first of two successive matches at Easter Road saw the Fifers start without both Mark Burchill and Noel Hunt. Their cause as they faced third placed Hibs, was made even more difficult without under-the-weather Gary Mason and Scott Thomson. Darren Young returned after his one match suspension and Icelander Garðar Gunnlaugsson wore the Pars strip for the first time as he took his place on the bench.
Hibs brought in Gary Smith for Chris Hogg and keeper Simon Brown replaced Zibigniew Malkowski between the sticks for his first SPL match since May.
As the teams lined up to start most interest was in how Jim Leishman was going to line his selection up as he fielded only one recognised forward. It was Andy Tod who was pushed up to join Bartosz Tarachulski in attack and the back four lined up McCunnie, Shields, Wilson and Zambernardi.
Hibs kicked off attacking the goal in front of the 428 Pars fans who had travelled across the Forth. Early play saw Hibs patiently build up only for the Pars to eventually break. Bartosz showed particular quality in taking down a clearance an set up a forward move but it was quickly back to the other end and O`Connor created the first real chance of the match with a chipped shot in the 8th minute that dropped wide to the left of McGregor`s goal.
Darren Young (left) keeps Kevin Thomson away and (right) Greg Ross under pressure
The visitors caused alarm in the Hibs penalty area three minutes later when a sweet cross from Zambernardi was headed on target by Tarachulski and Simon Brown had to pull off a good save to keep the scores level. The move roused the away support into song as Makel pounced on another opportunity to shoot and the Pars had the first corner of the game although that came to nothing.
McGregor made a fine block on a Stephen Glass drive and from the corner on the right, Scott Brown directed Murphy`s delivery on to the roof of the net. The next ball in from the right signalled Hibs opener. Steven Whittaker swept the ball over for O`Connor and he switched it for Derek RIORDAN to net from 20 yards. From the moment it left his boot it was always destined to bulge the netting.
Hibs celebrate their 17th minute opener
The one way traffic was temporarily halted by a Darren Young free kick that was wildly off target. Greg Shields pulled off a fine tackle to stop a strong run through the middle by Kevin Thomson and then another Whittaker ball turned on target by Glass just evaded Garry O`Connor`s just to flick it on goal. Next good luck prevented Scott Brown`s shot at an angle on the right of the box from making it number two as the ball slipped wide of the far post.
Andy Tod appeared to be suffering from a hamstring problem and the management team were forced into substituting him with Simon Donnelly in the 33rd minute. Since the change was enforced Leish could not be described as inspired with the change but within 90 seconds his newly introduced striker had got the Pars back on level terms. With what was his first touch of the ball DONNELLY latched on to Tarachulski`s knock down of Iain Campbell`s lethal cross and the low drive beat the keeper from 18 yards.
Just on the park and Simon Donnelly slots home an equaliser
Hibs get ready to re-start as the Pars fans in the background rejoice
McCunnie stuck out his left leg to end Murphy`s progress towards goal and from the free kick on the left edge of the Pars box was lifted on to the roof of the net by Riordan. As the half went into one minute overtime Tarachulski made a strong break break up the left, leaving his markers floundering in his wake and brilliantly picked out Donnelly. He failed to do damage with that chance but when Iain Campbell fed the ball into him again from a throw in deep left, the ex Celt struck Brown`s left post with the last action of the half.
Half Time: Hibernian 1 Dunfermline 1
Young and Makel got the second half underway when referee Stuart Dougal`s whistle silenced the Proclaimers. The music meant little to Bartosz Tarachulski but he was soon into the tick of it with Smith hauling him down unpunished and then his flick on just missing Donnelly for another near thing.
The ups and downs of Bartosz Tarachulski
Caldwell`s 50th minute challenge on Donnelly presented the Pars with a free kick in the centre circle but that was wasted and when Hibs took their free kick two minutes later Riordan`s ball into the six yard box was acrobatically directed towards the goal but slipped wide right to the huge disappointment of the fans behind the goal who thought the ball as netbound.
A Greg Ross shot won the Fifers a corner on the left and although Lee Makel`s first cross was defended the second allowed Ross another shot from distance but straight at the yellow kitted keeper. Hibs responded with Kevin Thomson`s thundering in a shot from 25 yards that McGregor saved well. When Shields was yellow carded for stopping Brown`s penetrating run Riordan was given an opportunity for a pot at goal but even with his 30 yard shot beating the wall McGregor was in command to clutch the shot.
Riordan failed from this free kick but he was to be successful in 71st minute
The Pars made it end to end stuff as the game opened up and gave both sets of supporters plenty to cheer (and complain) about. Hibs passing let them down a couple of times as the match approached 70 minutes but Brown`s advances met Shields on the edge of the D and won the greens another free kick in a dangerous position.
The incident that earned Hibs the free kick that their second goal came from
RIORDAN stepped up and curled the ball over the five man wall and into the net at the far post. McGregor had no chance but there will be complains about the free kick award for some time to come.
This was a cruel blow to Dunfermline who had competed well from the break. The never relenting chasing of Tarachulski had bother Hibs considerably but in 75 minutes and out of steam he was replaced by Garðar Gunnlaugsson. The Icelandic youngster`s name arched across his number 17 shirt as he made his debut.
With ten minutes left Allan McGregor produced another great save to deny Riordan of his hattrick. The fiendish effort from a free kick on the left almost sneaked in under the crossbar. The remainder of the game was predominantly in the direction of McGregor`s goal and Dunfermline never looked like grabbing the equaliser. In the 90th minute Steven FLETCHER was given loads of time and surprised the Pars with a shot from 25 yards to give the Hibees a third goal out of nothing.
The match ended with the Edinburgh crowd content with the result but yet again Dunfermline`s display and gritty determination hardly deserved such a convincing looking scoreline.
Tarachulski gave 110% and right Yannick Zambernardi, returning from injury, played all 90 minutes
Dunfermline: Allan McGregor; Jamie McCunnie, Greg Shields; Scott Wilson, Yannick Zambernardi; Greg Ross (Craig Wilson 85), Lee Makel, Darren Young, Iain Campbell; Bartosz Tarachulski (Gardar Gunnlaugsson 75), Andy Tod (Simon Donnelly 33).
Dunfermline Subs not used: Bryn Halliwell (GK), John Dunn, Gary Mason, Aaron Labonte.
Dunfermline Strip: Away all Black
Dunfermline Goal Scorers: Donnelly (35)
Dunfermline Yellow Cards: Shields (59), McCunnie (80)
Hibernian: Simon Brown; Steven Whittaker, Gary Caldwell, Gary Smith, David Murphy (Ivan Sproule 52); Scott Brown, Michael Stewart, Kevin Thomson, Stephen Glass; Garry O`Connor (Steven Fletcher 57), Derek Riordan
Hibernian Subs not used: Zibigniew Malkowski; Chris Hogg, Kevin McDonald, Oumar Kondé, Sam Morrow>BR>
Hibernian Goal Scorers: Riordan (17, 71)
Ladbrokes Championship: v St Mirren, Friday 26th January 2018, kick off 7.45pm