Hibee History: Stokes fire the flames

Anthony Stokes squandered a few chances but shrugged that off to score twice
Anthony Stokes squandered a few chances but shrugged that off to score twice
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Striker Anthony Stokes grabbed a double to ensure that Hibs kept pace with the Scottish Premier League leaders Rangers after a win over Aberdeen.

Hibs remained five points behind the Ibrox men, while defeat was a blow for an Aberdeen side who were nine points adrift of fourth place and a Europa League qualification spot.

The Dons had gone into the game depleted by injury, defender Davide Grassi, midfielder Derek Young and striker Darren Mackie returning to the starting line-up in place of crocked duo Maurice Ross and Peter Pawlett with Chris Maguire demoted to the bench.

Hibs were unchanged once more after Derek Riordan recovered from sickness as they sought to extend their unbeaten run in the SPL to 12 games.

Mackie almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion with a perfectly timed scissor-kick from a Richard Foster cross after eight minutes, but Sol Bamba was in the right place to head clear the goalbound effort.

And Stokes squandered a great opportunity at the other end three minutes later when he took too long to pull the trigger, allowing Grassi time to block the striker’s effort. The home side continued to enjoy the better chances, with Gary McDonald’s deflected left-footed shot drifting out for a fruitless corner after 15 minutes.

Hibs keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay, who was erratic throughout, was called upon to push a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick from all of 35 yards out for a corner.

A mishit Mackie cross looked to be dipping under the Hibs crossbar, but Ma-Kalambay again demonstrated his agility by pushing the ball over the bar after 27 minutes.

Hibs took the lead against the run of play five minutes before the interval when Merouane Zemmama threaded an inviting pass into the path of Stokes, who darted past Mulgrew before slotting the ball past Jamie Langfield. Mulgrew was deputising alongside Andrew Considine at the centre of the home defence, which was looking fragile despite the home side’s dominance of possession.

Stokes could have profited from confusion in the Dons defence before the break when they failed to deal with a long ball upfield from Ma-Kalambay, but the Irishman could only head wide.

Aberdeen signalled their early intent after the interval, with Foster stinging the palms of Ma-Kalambay with a fierce shot before Michael Paton shot over a minute later.

However, the visitors scored again after 55 minutes, when Colin Nish’s shot across the face of goal was turned home by Stokes for his second of the match.

The home side could have pulled a goal back almost immediately, but McDonald’s tame effort was clawed away by Ma-Kalambay before Considine’s header was cleared off the line by David Wotherspoon.

Aberdeen lost striker Lee Miller eight minutes from the final whistle after he clattered Zemmama from behind, with the former Hearts man given a red card.

Hibs: Ma-Kalambay, Wotherspoon, Hogg, Bamba, Murray, Zemmama, Rankin, Miller, Nish, Riordan, Stokes.