Hibee History: O’Connor and Riordan tame poor Lions

Garry O'Connor breaks the deadlock
Garry O'Connor breaks the deadlock
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Two second-half goals gave Hibs all three points as they sent the Lions deep into a relegation battle.

Since their win over Dundee in December, the West Lothian club had not won an SPL game .

Jason Dair’s 20-yard drive which went just past the post was workman-like Livingston’s best effort in front of a bumper crowd which was swelled by thousands of Hibs fans.

Recalled Hibs striker Steven Fletcher was on the end of a hopeful punt in the second minute but he could only direct his header at Colin Meldrum in the Livi goal. Then a mis-kick from Ryan Harding let Garry O’Connor in down the left and, from his cross, Hibs debutant Antonio Murray blasted over wildly from the edge of the box.

Livi woke up after 15 minutes and, after a corner was cleared by Gary Smith, Dair fired just wide of Simon Brown’s goal.

Hibs immediately broke upfield and a fortunate deflection saw the ball rebound to O’Connor who rounded Meldrum, but then he watched his shot cleared off the line by Harding.

Livi’s second chance of the game came on the half-hour when Murray was robbed on the edge of his box and Burton O’Brien forced Simon Brown into an acrobatic save.

Fletcher also kept getting into goalscoring positions, but was failing to finish the job.

The start of the second half was delayed when referee Mike McCurry failed to appear after the interval, presumably due to injury, as fourth official David Somers took over.

It did not disrupt Hibs though and finally their dominance paid when O’Connor netted on 53 minutes.

After being played in by Steven Whittaker, the burly striker fended off Harding and placed the ball past Meldrum and into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Livingston boss Richard Gough responded by hauling off Harding after the young defender had been given a torrid match and brought on new-boy Attila Kriston.

James McPake was then replaced by Hungarian, Ferenc Horvath, as Livi sought to get a foothold back in the game.

The moves certainly livened lacklustre Livi up, and from O’Brien’s left-wing cross Jamie Hand side-footed just wide on 63 minutes.

Then, in the 74th minute, the visitors made the points safe when O’Connor picked up a loose ball on the right-hand side of the penalty box, fired in a low shot, which Meldrum could only parry and there was Derek Riordan to tap the ball home from four yards out.

Hibs cruised the rest of the game to strengthen their grip on third place in the SPL and leave Livi battling the drop.

Hibs: Brown, Whittaker, Glass, Caldwell, Smith, Shiels, Murray, Orman, Riordan, O’Connor, Fletcher