Hibee History: Leigh Griffiths nets his first hat-trick

Leigh Griffiths celebrates with the match ball at the end of the game
Leigh Griffiths celebrates with the match ball at the end of the game
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Leigh Griffiths was presented with the match ball after recording his first hat-trick in senior football as Hibs progressed to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup.

The teams had drawn 2-2 in the league at Easter Road on the Wednesday night leading up to this match, and for much of this game were evenly matched. But together Griffiths’ opportunism and the home defenders’ ineptitude ensured that Hibs became the fourth away team to emerge victorious from the four quarter-finals.

Hibs boss Pat Fenlon made only one change to the team which had begun that 2-2 draw, bringing David Wotherspoon into midfield in place of Paul Cairney.

It was the visitors’ defence who had more to do in the opening stages as Killie, unchanged from four days earlier, tried to take the game to them.

A harmless shot which Griffiths sent wide was the first real effort on goal by either side, with almost ten minutes on the clock. It was an uncharacteristically tame effort, but the prolific striker reverted to form five minutes later when he fired his team into the lead. A clearance out of the Kilmarnock box had seemed secure enough, and was about to cross the halfway line when Wotherspoon headed it back upfield. With Jeroen Tesselaar wrongfooted, Griffiths seized on the loose ball, ran on unopposed into the box, and stroked it under Cammy Bell and into the net.

The home team’s response was fairly quick though. William Gros did the damage with a low shot which Ben Williams could only push out as far as James Dayton, and with the goalkeeper covering his near post, the winger cleverly shot high into the net.

Undaunted by the equaliser, Hibs pressed on, and were soon in front again, thanks to some atrocious work by the Kilmarnock defence. Bell put Mo Sissoko in difficulty with a pass inside the box, and the centre-half returned the compliment by thumping the ball back to his goalkeeper.

Apparently unaware that Griffiths was closing him down, Bell took a touch in a bid to control the ball before clearing. Griffiths was too quick for the keeper, however, and got a touch into the path of Matt Done just before Bell brought him down. Done shot into the empty net to register his first goal for Hibs, and Bell was booked for the foul on Griffiths.

Kilmarnock pressed hard in the first 20 minutes after the restart, but they barely got a sniff of a direct scoring chance. It was no surprise, then, when home manager Kenny Shiels made the first substitution of the afternoon, introducing Cillian Sheridan in place of Rory McKeown.

Shiels’ team had become over-elaborate in their attempts to get the equaliser, but when it came, it was pretty similar to the move which had produced their first goal. This time it was a shot by Dayton which Williams pushed clear, into the path of Paul Heffernan. Before the striker could pull the trigger, however, he was impeded by Lewis Stevenson. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, and Heffernan netted.

After so much hard work to get back on terms, Kilmarnock were then their own undoing when Griffiths got the better of Sissoko in a race for a through ball. Bell came out, collided with Sissoko, and got a touch on the deck. Griffiths also fell over, but showed the presence of mind to spin round while on the ground and hook the ball into the empty net.

More Kilmarnock madness followed minutes later when Ross Barbour was sent off for pulling Griffiths back just outside the box as the striker again threatened to break free. Gros handled the resultant free-kick hand just inside the box to concede a penalty.

The Frenchman was booked, and Griffiths took the penalty, slamming the ball into the right corner of the net.

Hibs: Williams, Maybury, McPake, McGivern, Stevenson, Claros, Taiwo, Done, Robertson, Wotherspoon, Griffiths.