SPFL Championship: DUNFERMLINE 1 HIBERNIAN 3: 22/10/16
Reilly, Wedderburn and Richards-Everton start. Kallum Higginbotham (22 pen.) 1-0: James Keatings (55) 1-1: Grant Holt (67 pen.) 1-2: Brian Graham (90+1) 1-3
Dunfermline led at half time after Kallum Higginbotham had scored from a 22nd minute penalty. The Edinburgh team equalised early in the second half, took the lead from the penalty spot midway through the half and polished the Pars off with a late third.
Dunfermline and Hibs have not had many opportunities to meet on league business in recent seasons, largely because for the past ten seasons Dunfermline have only once managed to make the top league.
The clubs have only met away from the top league in two previous seasons - 1932/33 and 1980/81. Adding those results to the earlier season encounter at Easter Road this season means that Dunfermline have failed to win any of the eight matches played outside the top league.
For this meeting Pars manager Allan Johnston made three changes from the side that lost 2-1 at the Falkirk Stadium the previous week. Gavin Reilly, Nat Wedderburn and Ben Richards-Everton came into the side. There was no Nicky Clark, Ryan Williamson and Rhys McCabe were named as subs.
Hibs made two changes from the side held to a draw at Starks Park the previous week, Martin Bartley and Jason Cummings dropped to the bench to accommodate Liam Fontaine and Andrew Shinnie.
Ahead of kick off there was a minute`s applause for Pars legend George Peebles who died on Monday. George, a Cup winner in 1961 made 413 appearances for the Pars between 1955 and April 1966.
The home side kicked off attacking the goals in front of a near full East Stand. A second minute free kick delivered into the Pars box by John McGinn caused three Dunfermline men to be knocked over and referee Alan Muir to blow up in the Fifers favour. Both teams then had their share of possession but neither got anywhere near the keepers until James Keatings broke down the left in eight minutes and sent a strong pass across the Pars six yard box.
Keatings had the game`s first shot on goal blocked a minute later. Lewis Stevenson`s cross was then hoofed away by Lee Ashcroft before Dunfermline pushed up with Michael Paton firing on target from 28 yards out but his effort was deflected behind for the first corner of the game in 13th minute. Fontaine headed that away and play was quickly at the other end. Ben Richards-Everton conceded a free kick 28 yards out and Keatings sent the effort from the setpiece narrowly over the crossbar.
On 20 minutes Farid El Alagui clipped the ball over the Hibs back three but by the time Kallum Higginbotham had to wait for it too drop, Darren McGregor was able to slide in a block the attempt. A corner ensued and Higginbotham was given two chances to cross. His second, right into the six yard box resulted in Geggan being pushed over and Alan Muir pointed to the spot.
HIGGINBOTHAM hit the spot kick low to the right with Ofir Marciano going the wrong way. At last a successful penalty! 1-0
Within a minute El Alagui had a great chance to make it 2-0 but his shot was saved by Marciano. The stadium atmosphere had become fully charged as Paton axed a Hibs player on the left corner of the Pars box. Shinnie took the free kick aiming at the near post but Sean Murdoch got down to hold.
Then there was some solid defending from Dunfermline with first Jason Talbot and then El Alagui heading clearances. An Andy Geggan foul on Keatings handed Hibs a 33rd minute free kick 20 yards out. Keatings shot and drove his effort into the five man Dunfermline wall. Hibs kept up the pressure with two corners from the right and Fraser Fyvie, unmarked on the edge of the box was able to receive and execute a good try but his shot went just over the bar.
Six minutes from the break Hibs missed two good chances to score an equaliser. On both occasions Shinnie flashed the ball in from the right and both times Keatings failed to get the necessary touch.
Richards-Everton was shown a yellow card for chopping down John McGinn. A free kick was awarded to Hibs 28 yards out and McGinn and Murdoch tipped the ball over his crossbar.
It had been a strong fighting performance from Dunfermline who deserved their first half lead. Hibs had the majority of the possession and maybe should have done better from the several good goalscoring opportunities that came their way.
Half time: Dunfermline 1 Hibernian 0
Hibs came out with some urgency in the second half, forcing an early corner and then a 49th free kick allowed McGregor a header back across goal and Hanlon followed up. The ball hit the left post and Murdoch scooped it away. It was a bit of a let off.
The Pars were to suffer big style in 55 minutes when KEATINGS created and then finished a great opportunity. Higginbotham`s slack pass let the Hibee cut along the 18 yard line before smashing a left footed shot that deflected off Ashcroft and past Murdoch. 1-1
The Capital side`s tails went up and their sizeable travelling support raised the roof as their side went for a second. McGregor crashed a shot high and wide and then from a 63rd minute free kick on the right corner of the Pars box, McGinn curled the ball just outside the far post.
Stevenson came close to getting a good opportunity but Martin read the ball well. It continued to be all Hibs and their pressure ended up with Ashcroft pushing over Shinnie as he broke into the box. Referee Alan Muir pointed to the spot and issued a yellow card to the Pars no.12. Grant HOLT stepped up to hit the spot kick past Murdoch giving the Pars keeper little chance. 1-2
David Hopkirk and then Michael Moffat came on for the Pars as Farid El Alagui and then Kallum Higginbotham were withdrawn. Hopkirk had a quick fire shot from 30 yards that was narrowly off target and then Paton almost played a perfect ball for Moffat to run on to in the left side of the Hibs box but the defence got there first.
Hopkirk`s 75th minute shot was deflected for a corner on the left and when Fontaine got on the end of that Paton had to cross over to send another in from the right. That changed nothing as Richards-Everton just could not win control. Back to the other end and Stevenson made Murdoch dive at full stretch to turn the shot out for a corner right. the Hibs fans behind the goal had to shade their eyes from the low afternoon sun but they only missed a Pars clearance.
Murdoch came out of his area to make an 80th minute kick into the North Stand. the Pars last throw of the dice was then to bring on Paul McMullan for Paton. Next Ashcroft blocked a good Shinnie shot to retain the possibilities of getting something out of the game.
Brian GRAHAM came on for Grant Holt with two minutes left on the clock and within three minutes he was on the end of a Shinnie cut back from the left byeline to crash the ball past Murdoch from ten yards out. 1-3
To rub further pain into the defeat Moffat was red carded in the fourth minute of added time after cutting down McGregor and then barged away by Shinnie. It was all well and truly over and Dunfermline`s attentions must now be on the away match against Dumbarton, the team in ninth place one below them, next Saturday.
Hibs stormed back with a powerful second half that they dominated.
DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Lewis Martin, Lee Ashcroft, Ben Richards-Everton, Jason Talbot: Michael Paton (Paul McMullan 81), Andy Geggan (c), Nat Wedderburn, Kallum Higginbotham (Michael Moffat 69): Farid El Alagui (David Hopkirk 68), Gavin Reilly.
SUBS NOT USED: Ryan Williamson, Rhys McCabe, Callum Fordyce, David Hutton (GK)
SCORERS: Higginbotham (22 pen.)
YELLOW CARD: Paton (35), Geggan (62), Ashcroft (66)
RED CARD: Moffat (90+4)
HIBERNIAN: Ofir Marciano. David Gray (c), Paul Hanlon, Liam Fontaine, Darren McGregor. John McMinn, Fraser Fyvie, Lewis Stevenson, Grant Holt (Brian Graham 88), James Keatings (Martin Boyle 58), Andrew Shinnie.
SUBS NOT USED: Martin Bartley, Jason Cummings, Jordan Forster, Alex Harris, Ross Laidlaw (GK).
SCORERS: Keatings (55), Holt (67 pen), Graham (90+1)
YELLOW CARD: McGinn (26)
REFEREE: Alan Muir
WEATHER: Fine 11C
NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Dumbarton, Saturday 29th October 2016, kick off 3.00pm
Betfred Cup v Peterhead: Saturday 22nd July 2017, kick off 3.00pm