- Sunday, 13 May 2012
- Written by Modou Lamin Beyai
Pa Saikou Kujabi’s Hibernian produced their performance of the season to thrash Dunfermline Athletic at Easter Road and end any lingering relegation fears.
The victory ended manager Pat Fenlon’s long wait for an SPL victory at home and consigned the Pars to First Division football next term. With over 15,000 packed into the old stadium this evening, few amongst them could have predicted the blistering start from the home side that ended this match as a contest long before the end.
A stunning diving header from Matt Doherty in the 4th minute set the tone before further strikes from Eoin Doyle and a Garry O'Connor penalty saw Hibs coast to victory. A volley from Paul Hanlon almost took the roof off the stadium as Hibs made it 4-0 late on as thoughts are finally allowed to turn towards May 19th and a historic contest at Hampden. With the visitors needing to win, they set their stall out early when Martin Hardie tested Mark Brown with a shot from distance however the Hibs goalkeeper was more than equal to the effort.
If Dunfermline’s game plan was to score early and pile the pressure on their hosts, then that ambition was blown out of the water as Hibernian opened the scoring after just 4 minutes. A delightful free kick from Tom Soares was flicked on by James McPake and Doherty stooped to head back across goal and into the net with Chris Smith rooted to the spot. The goal was everything Hibs needed to settled the nerves on a big night for the club and just minutes later they doubled their advantage.
Goal scorer Doherty turned goal provider when his persistence on the right, bursting through the Pars rear-guard before picking out Doyle with a delectable lob that the Irishman nodded into the net from close range. The Hibernian supporters could hardly believe their luck and it was to get even better when Austin McCann foolishly pulled back Paul Hanlon inside the penalty area and referee Euan Norris had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick.
Top goal scorer O’Connor was just as decisive with his finish as clinically dispatched his shot into the net for his 16th goal of the season. To their credit Dunfermline refused to throw in the towel and Hibs had goalkeeper Brown to thank for a fine save to deny Jordan McMillan after being caught out at the back. The Fifers continued to push forward and on 28 minutes Brown was again called into action to deny McMillan’s powerful header before McPake was forced into an outstanding last-gasp block to prevent David Graham from getting a shot away.
Both teams made a change at the half time break with Hibs introducing George Francomb for Pa Saikou and Dunfermline replacing McCann with Joe Cardle. Hibernian was desperately unlucky not to extend their lead shortly after the interval when O’Connor linked-up with Doyle, drove into the Pars penalty box before shooting across goal and just wide with Smith beaten. On 53 minutes another fine set piece delivery from Soares picked out the run of Doherty at the back post but on this occasion he was unable to make contact and the Dunfermline goal survived another scare.
Given what was at stake it was surprising that the visitors had rarely been seen as an attacking threat in the second period however a free kick from Hardie almost evaded Brown; the goalkeeper scrambling across his line to touch it onto the post. With 10 minute remaining Hibernian put the icing on the cake when defender Hanlon scored perhaps the goal of the season.
Gathering possession deep inside his own half, the defender weaved a path through the Pars midfield before finding Isaiah Osbourne on the right and when the ball was floated into the penalty area he smashed a right-foot volley off the underside of the crossbar. The ball didn’t appear to cross the line however the assistant referee gave the goal and Easter Road was rocking as SPL safety was secured.