Hibs leapfrogged Aberdeen into third place with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock at a windy Easter Road this afternoon.
After a night of high drama at Parkhead on Monday Head Coach Jack Ross made two changes to his starting XI with new signing Jackson Irvine replacing the injured Joe Newell whilst Martin Boyle recovered from his ankle knock to replace Drey Wright. Hibs other new signing Chris Cadden was listed amongst the substitutes.
All photos by Ian Jacobs
Clevid Dikamona who was relegated with Hearts last season started for Kilmarnock in the match which was sponsored by the Hanlon Stevenson Foundation but surprisingly Chris Burke who caused Hibs problems in the opening game of the season could only make the bench.
Hibs started brightly and in the opening minute Paul McGinn won possession in midfield then did well to hold off two defenders before trying his luck from the edge of the area but Danny Rogers did will to save.
Moments later a McGinn cross just evaded Irvine and Hibs continued to dominate possession without testing the well organised Kilmarnock back line.
In the 18th minute a floated ball from Melker Hallberg was cut back by Boyle but no-one was on hand to take advantage and the danger was cleared.
Hallberg required treatment after a challenge from Youssouf Mulumbu but was able to continue.
The visitors then enjoyed a spell of pressure but like the hosts they were unable to create any clear cut chances.
In the 39th minute Kevin Nisbet broke clear on the left wing but he overhit his cross with Boyle waiting to pounce.
Just before the break a Jamie Murphy cross from the left was flicked on by Nisbet and struck Brandon Haunstrup and deflected just wide of the post.
Hibs started the second-half on the front foot and McGinn linked up with Boyle but his cross was blocked and from the resultant corner Alex Gogic sent in a powerful header which Rogers did well to save.
Five minutes later Hibs took the lead when Murphy played in Doig down the left and the youngster’s powerful low cross was deflected into his own net by Alan Power with Nisbet waiting to pounce.
Kilmarnock almost equalised when Nicky Kabamba’s shot on the turn rebounded off the post and into the arms of Matt Macey.
In the 73rd minute Christian Doidge replaced Irvine then moments later Boyle almost made it 2-0 with a header from an superb Doig cross but once again Rogers produced a fine save.
Hibs had a penalty claim in the 77th minute after a great 60-yard run by Doig who went down sandwiched between two defenders but Willie Collum waved away the appeals.
Power was then booked for chopping down Boyle and Hallberg sent the resultant free-kick into the area. Gogic won the header which was then flicked on by Ryan Porteous and Doidge slid the ball back into the path of Gogic who fired a superb strike high into the net for his first goal for the club.
Cadden replaced Boyle then Stevie Mallan and Jamie Gullan took over from Nisbet and Murphy.
A mistake in the Kilmarnock defence allowed Doidge a shot at goal but his effort was smothered by Rogers.
In the dying minute Hibs broke clear and Rogers did well to deny Mallan as Hibs held on the secure a valuable three points.
After the final whistle Ross told BBC Scotland: “I’ve said it often during the course of the season about the result being the be all and end all and, for us in the conditions and with it being so blustery and the fact the pitch isn’t in great condition at the moment, means that it was going to be a game decided by fine margins and by doing the ugly side of the game well and I thought we did that today.”
Hibs: Macey, P. McGinn, Hanlon, Porteous, Doig, Gogic, Irvive, Hallberg, Boyle, Murphy, Nisbet. Subs: Dabrowski, Gray, McGregor, S.McGinn, Gullan, Mallan, Cadden, Doidge
Kilmarnock: Rogers, McGowan, Dikamona, Findlay, Haunstrup, Power, Mulumbo, Tshibola, Pinnock, Kiltie, Whitehall. Subs: Doyle Waters, Brindley, Taylor, Dabo, Burke, Cameron, Kabamba
Referee Willie Collum