SPL v Hibernian
DUNFERMLINE 1 HIBERNIAN 4 Date: 19/03/05
Fixture: BOS SPL Premier League, Attendance: 7204
Kick Off: 15:00, Referee: Hugh Dallas
Weather: 11C Sunny
Hibs came from behind to trounce Dunfermline 4-1. The home side failed to capitalise on their superiority before letting the Easter Road side into the game and then allowing them to have a feast of goals. Nicholson`s first half equaliser was countered by two goals each from Riordan and Fletcher.
Three changes from last week. The two youngsters Greg Ross and Iain Campbell were relegated to the bench to make way for the return of Aaron Labonte for his first match since January and Skipper Scott Thomson returns to lead the team out. Scott Wilson was out suspended so that made rooom for Derek Young to come into the midfield.
pre match entertainment
Dunfermline kicked off in bright summer-like sunshine attacking the goal in front of the near full East Stand. Early pressure was all from the Fifers patiently building up play without getting any success in penetrating the Hibees defence. Darren Young tried a long range effort after winning possession in the third minute but the ball was well wide of the left goalpost.
Hibs had the first clear cut chance in the 6th minute when Stephen Glass cut through on the left but Labonte put in a timely tackle to take the ball cleanly away from the Hibs midfielder as he made his way into the Pars box. The travelling support claimed for a penalty but Hugh Dallas was in no doubt that the challenge was fair.
The visitors won the first corner of the game in the 10th minute when Smith sent Whittaker down the right for his cross to be blocked out, going behind for a corner from the right. Fortunately Hibs failed make anything from it or from an opportunity that dropped for Gary O`Connor minutes later.
The game was fairly evenly balanced with both teams enjoying periods of possession. Barry Nicholson did his best to change things receiving the ball from Labonte and firing in an early shot from 35 yards in the 19th minute that Brown had little difficulty in touching behind for a corner.
A 27th minute free kick awarded for Skerla`s tug on O`Connor was centred by Riordan and Gary Caldwell was wide right with his header from just six yards. Four minutes later O`Connor`s pass right for Whittaker was too strong and he had to turn it back from the byeline for Shiels to shoot wide. Hibs were slowly taking control with Donnelly closing down Glass`s shot from an O`Connor lay off.
The Pars response came from a Nicholson corner on the left that Donnelly won but Scott Thomson headed wide from the angle of the six yard box with 37 minutes on the clock. Steven Whittaker was yellow carded for his axing of Darren Young but the free kick went behind Andy Tod and deep to Christiansen whose return was booted away by Shiels.
Two minutes from the interval Dunfermline took the lead. A good through ball from Derek Young picked out Simon Donnelly on the left. It was three against three but it looked as though Simon had travelled too far. Gary Smith came out to tackle but Simon slipped the ball square for Barry NICHOLSON who sent in a great strike from 20 yards leaving keeper Simon Brown little chance.
The Pars were out quite a time before their Edinburgh opponents after the break but it was the Hibees who were first to threaten in the second half. A fine pass in from the left by Glass was stuck past the blue shirted Pars keeper but the assistant referee`s flag was up early to signify that Dean Shiels was offside as he converted the cross in the 48th minute.
Scott Thomson drove forward four minutes later fending off the challenges to get to the byeline but his right footed cross was too near the keeper and the white gloves o9f Brown collected. Dunfermline continued with good possession but again Hibs kept the effect of that to nothing. The visitors were denied an equaliser in the 56th minute when Andy Tod intercepted Derek Riordan`s shot from 15 yards as he aimed at an open goal vacated by Stillie in his attempts to prevent Glass`s pass reaching Riordan.
The pace of the game was rising and the home fans in the Norrie Stand thought Nicholson had scored a second when he took a Christiansen pass and hit the right post. Barry`s corner on the hour required a fine block on a Tod header from Gary Smith and then three minutes later a Skerla header went over the crossbar from another.
Hibs boss Tony Mowbray tried a double substitution in the 61st minute with Brown and Caldwell being withdrawn for the fresh legs of McCluskey and Fletcher. Within five minutes Mowbray`s men were back on level terms. A great cross in from the right courtesy of Whittaker was just the kind of invitation that Derek RIORDAN required and he rose high seven yards out to head past Stillie.
The 17 year-old Hibs substitutes maybe had no hand in the opener but Steven FLETCHER took the chance to put his side into the lead only three minutes later. A cross in from the left by David Murphy was headed on by O`Connor. Stillie came out, may have been fouled by O`Connor, but dropped the ball allowing the Hibs no.29 to prod home from ten yards.
It was a disastrous turn around for the Pars but just six minutes it got even worse. Riordan turned the ball left for Murphy on the left corner of the penalty box and his ball in was slotted past Stillie by FLETCHER to make it 3-1. There were home appeals for a penalty when Smith appeared to handle a Darren Young header. Hibs were down to ten men temporarily when Murphy went off with a cut but the game was already out of the Pars touch with more to follow.
In the 81st minute Derek RIORDAN notched his 20th of the season with a great individual effort. Advancing into the box on the right side the Hibs striker took a touch from right to left before smacking in a low right footed shot at the right post. As many fans poured out of the home end, Mehmet`s good effort was saved by Brown and in the 85th minute Toddy was needed to clear Fletcher`s shot off the line from a Riordan cross. Shiels and Fletcher had good opportunities to continue the rout but thankfully for the Pars they screwed up when they should have done better.
Hibs first league win at East End Park in over thirteen years was a lesson in finishing. Dunfermline for all their possession lacked the killer punch and even though it was against the run of play when Hibs got the 61st minute equaliser their three further goals in just 20 minutes were emphatic.
At least Livingston and Dundee United lost so the Pars remain in fourth bottom place with a fortnight`s break now because of the Italy v Scotland World Cup Qualifier next Saturday before a very important visit to Almondvale on 2nd April.
Dunfermline Subs not used: Langfield, McKeown, Campbell, C Wilson, McGlinchey.
Dunfermline Strip: Home White and Black
Dunfermline Goal Scorers: Nicholson (43)
Hibernian Squad: Simon Brown; Whittaker, Smith, Murray, Murphy; Glass, Caldwell (McCluskey 61), Scott Brown (Fletcher 61), Shiels, O`Connor (Konte 77), Riordan
Hibernian Subs not used: Shields, McDonald, Alistair Brown, Sproule
Hibernian Goal Scorers: Riordan (66, 81), Fletcher (69, 75)
Hibernian : Whittaker (41)