Hibs 2, Rangers 1: October 12, 1996
ONLY the mystics could explain this one. Hibs, without a manager, without money, and, almost all had concluded, without hope, welcomed Rangers to Easter Road and promptly fleeced them of all the points.
There was such bedlam inside Easter Road Stadium you felt an earthquake might be stirring. Jim Leighton was outstanding in goal, producing a truly memorable performance.
With Hibs surprisingly in the lead, Rangers were awarded an 85th-minute penalty, which Brian Laudrup thrashed against Leighton’s bar.
However, the referee ordered a re-take after Andy Millen had entered the box before it was taken, and despite the reprieve Laudrup once again missed thanks to Leighton’s superb lunge to the left to scoop the ball away.
By this point, Hibs and their supporters were beside themselves with jubilation.
This all seemed unlikely when Rangers broke the deadlock after just ten minutes. The opener came from a Jorg Albertz free-kick, and the velocity of that ferocious strike from the German seemed to suggest Rangers were about to blitz their hosts. But, strangely, it never happened.
Hibs were invigorated after the interval, grabbing an equaliser from the spot through Darren Jackson and a winner from Graeme Donald.
Rangers were dealt a blow after just five minutes when Peter van Vossen was carried off on a stretcher, following a challenge, which looked fair, by Pat McGinlay.
Rangers’ midfield maestro, Paul Gascoigne, was having a difficult time of it, often losing possession which disrupted Rangers’ attacking flow. The England star was only briefly able to show glimpses of his brilliance.
Parts of the match programme were tributes for the recently-dismissed manager, Alex Miller. Chairman Douglas Cromb’s pen wrote of Miller’s “ten years of dedicated service to the club”, while a double-page spread on the manager’s reign – 453 games played, 158 won – might have been less brutal in its use of statistics. There was palpable gloom around Easter Road at Miller’s exit.
Out on the pitch, Hibs had the veteran Ray Wilkins prowling the midfield, passing this way and that, and Hibs revived themselves in this match in miraculous fashion.
Following Albertz’s goal, they appeared on the verge of a humiliation, until half-time and presumably a mouthful from interim manager Jocky Scott perked them up.
The Hibs that came out for the second period were a transformed set of players. Within 14 minutes – and inside the space of four of them – they ripped Walter Smith’s Rangers to shreds to win the match abruptly. Jackson, enjoying a rich vein of form, broke beyond Joachim Bjorklund, who was judged to have fouled him in the area. The referee’s decision looked to have been flawed, but Jackson’s penalty certainly wasn’t. He struck it high and to the left as a beaten Andy Goram could only watch on helplessly as it crashed into his net.
Hibs then stunned Rangers once again to surge into the lead. Kevin Harper who struggled throughout, angled a pass to Willie Miller, whose cross was met emphatically at the far post by Donald.
His shot from four yards left Goram with no chance. Twice keeper Leighton denied Rangers an equaliser, the first time from Richard Gough’s raking drive after 70 minutes and then, of course, Laudrup’s retaken penalty with five minutes left.
Hibs: Leighton, Miller, Donald, C Jackson, Dods, Hunter, Cameron, Wilkins, Harper, D Jackson, McGinlay.