Hibee History: Garry O’Connor inspires victory

Garry OConnor scored twice and could have had a third

Garry OConnor scored twice and could have had a third

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Hibs continued their climb up the SPL table with a comprehensive and fourth consecutive league win over Partick Thistle.

The Easter Road men had begun the campaign poorly under the guard of Bobby Williamson, winning just one of their opening seven league matches.

That had led some Hibs fans to call for Williamson’s head, but form had since bee turned around and sights were firmly set on a top-six place after this victory at Firhill.

The opening period was a forgettable affair but, after Hibs made the breakthrough, they were able to control much of the game and ran out comfortable winners.

Hibs were first to threaten when 19-year-old striker Garry O’Connor got on the end of Mixu Paatelainen’s cross, but the youngster, who had had made his Scotland debut against South Korea in May, headed straight at Kenny Arthur.

In the tenth minute Thistle’s Alan Archibald’s fierce shot was pushed out by Nick Colgan into the path of striker Scott McLean, but Yannick Zambernardi made a vital challenge to divert the ball past the post.

Partick went close again minutes later when McLean found space in the box, but he drilled his shot wide of the post.

There was little in the way of creativity on display from either side as the match wore on with both teams guilty of pumping hopeful long balls forward in search of their strikers.

It was not pretty stuff, but it was a tactic that worked in Hibs’ favour minutes before the half-time break.

O’Connor controlled a searching pass from Zambernardi 30 yards from goal, turned smartly and thundered a right foot shot high into the corner of the Thistle net.

After the break the visitors seemed inspired by O’Connor’s strike and looked the most likely to score with Partick struggling for ideas.

Veteran forward Paatelainen should have killed the home side off in the 58th minute when O’Connor cut the ball back to him but he blazed wide from just eight yards.

Archibald had a chance to make the visitors pay in the 65th minute after a rush of blood saw Colgan come racing off his line, but the defender lacked composure and the Hibs defence managed to clear.

Quick thinking by O’Connor saw him unleash a snap-shot which Arthur did well to turn around the post.

With nine minutes remaining Hibs extended their lead when Paatelainen barged his way through two defenders to meet a cross from Craig James and claim his second goal of the season.

O’Connor wrapped up the points in the 88th minute with his second strike of the afternoon – knocking the ball over the head of his marker before volleying home.

The Hibs striker could have had his hat-trick in the dying minutes but his effort hit the post.

Hibs: Colgan, Orman, Zambernardi, Fenwick, James, Townsley, Brebner, Wiss, Murray, O’Connor, Paatelainen.