Hibee History: Clancy and Cairney the heroes at Celtic Park

Paul Cairney, pursued by David Wotherspoon, made it 2-2
Paul Cairney, pursued by David Wotherspoon, made it 2-2
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The good news for the rest of the SPL is the Hoops clearly won’t stroll the league if they are under strength.

Hibs should have been six-feet under by half-time but Pat Fenlon’s men showed a resilience rarely seen last season to bounce back twice from Mikael Lustig goals to pinch a point.

Tim Clancy and Paul Cairney grabbed their first goals for the Edinburgh club who are first to claim SPL points at Parkhead since Hibs did it themselves with a 0-0 draw last October.

The deadlock, however undeserved, kept the sides level on points at the top of the SPL. And although Hoops boss Neil Lennon played down his anger, he knows they need more than they managed here in the second half.

He was without Scott Brown, Beram Kayal, Joe Ledley, Charlie Mulgrew, Georgios Samaras and Anthony Stokes from his starting line-up – then lost Victor Wanyama to injury.

The visitors had started the match pretty steadily but nonetheless found themselves behind after just 11 minutes.

James McPake made a crucial intervention to deny Victor Wanyama a tap-in from a Filip Twardzik corner, but no-one in the visiting defence could prevent Lustig’s thunderous effort from 12 yards from Twardzik’s subsequent corner out the net.

Celtic assumed complete control of the match and came within inches of a second when Gary Hooper picked up possession on the edge of the box only to see his powerful toe-poke come off the underside of the bar.

Williams in the Hibs goal was seeing plenty of the ball and he reacted brilliantly to push away a powerful Victor Wanyama drive from 10 yards.

James Forrest was next to try his luck, this time from outside the penalty area, but his low strike whistled just past Williams’ right-hand post.

The game was in danger of drifting into non-event territory as half-time approached, though Hibs briefly threatened when McPake’s header across goal allowed Leigh Griffiths to try an adventurous overhead-kick, which flew well off-target.

Celtic sprang into life and first Tony Watt chipped wide when he should have scored before Hooper was again denied by the frame of the goal, heading against Williams’ left-hand post from Adam Matthews’ cross.

Whatever Pat Fenlon said to his players at the interval certainly had the desired effect, though. Within two minutes of the restart, a Griffiths free kick from the right was knocked against the post by Eoin Doyle.

But the equaliser did arrive moments later after woeful defending by Lustig. The Swede attempted to guide the ball back to Fraser Forster but failed miserably to do so, allowing Clancy to nip in, round the keeper and tap in to an empty net.

An inspired Paddy McCourt run and shot came close to restoring Celtic’s lead and though Hibs were playing a far greater role in the match, they fell behind again when Williams spilled a long-range Filip Twardzik free kick, allowing Lustig to slide in and, despite the best efforts of McPake on the line, force the ball over the line.

The home crowd were stunned again, though, when Cairney showed superb skill to get past two challenges and then slot the ball past Forster.

Celtic continued to create chances as the game wore on, and Twardzik passed up a glorious opportunity with eight minutes left.

A Kris Commons free kick was punched into the Czech’s path by Williams but he blasted over the bar from eight yards.

McPake was playing heroically at the back for Hibs and he did just enough to deflect a Commons shot wide as time ticked away.

And in the end, Hibs held on comfortably to continue their impressive start to the league season, though Celtic have only themselves to blame for dropping two points.

Hibs: Williams, Clancy, Hanlon, McPake (c), Maubury, Deegan, Claros, Cairney, Wotherspoon, Griffiths, Doyle.