Hibee History: Win eases the pressure on Mixu

Paul Hanlon scores Hibs' crucial third goal
Paul Hanlon scores Hibs' crucial third goal
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HIBS put an opening-day defeat by Kilmarnock behind them as they secured their first points of the season after prevailing in a five-goal thriller against Falkirk.

Hibees manager Mixu Paatelainen had become fed-up answering questions about reported dressing-room unrest and his own position as manager ahead of kick-off at Easter Road.

And his much-criticised side took just 24 seconds to put clear any memory of the previous week’s defeat by Killie.

John Rankin had been restored to Hibs’ starting line-up and it was the midfielder’s deflected cross that fell to Colin Nish on the edge of the box and the big striker strolled forward before slotting the ball past Robert Olejnik at the near post to get the home side off to a flyer.

Falkirk captain Darren Barr had received his first call-up to the Scotland squad in midweek, but the defender presented Steven Fletcher with another chance after being dispossessed. However, the striker with whom Barr would team-up with at international training, dragged his shot wide from 25 yards.

Hibs should have doubled their lead when Fletcher teed up Nish inside the box, but the striker missed the target from close range.

Barr appeared to be determined to hand his Scotland colleague a goal, a poor defensive header this time giving Fletcher the chance to send a 12-yard volley from 12 yards, but the strike was superbly blocked by Olejnik.

The Falkirk defence were all over the place and it was no surprise when Hibs went further ahead. Fletcher just failed to connect fully with a cross from Paul and Nish was left with an easy header at the back post for his second of the match.

Falkirk dragged themselves back into the game against the run of play five minutes later.

Michael Higdon beat Rob Jones to a Gerard Aafjes cross to glance the ball home and usher in a hectic period of goalmouth action.

Hibs should have extended their lead, but Rankin somehow missed the target from 18 yards with just Olejnik to beat after a through ball by Alan O’Brien.

John Stewart then broke into the box for Falkirk, but his low drive from an acute angle was well blocked by home goalkeeper Andrew McNeil.

Falkirk looked the more composed at the start of the second half, but they were undone after just three minutes. Hanlon pounced on a Nish header to put Hibs two goals clear from close range and Fletcher came close to a fourth only for Olejnik to punch clear the striker’s attempted precise chip. The Bairns responded again and poor defending allowed Higdon to collect a Jackie McNamara through ball before driving the ball home.

Hibs looked to restore their two-goal advantage and Olejnik was forced into a superb save from a great left-foot volley from Fletcher.

The home side were peppering the Bairns goal from long range and a Fletcher drive clipped the top of the crossbar.

Falkirk finished the game applying the pressure and a Mark Stewart drive struck the post as a now nervous Hibs survived for a deserved victory to leave the Bairns without a point from their first two games.

Hibs: McNeil, Van Zanten, Hogg, Jones, Hanlon, Keenan, Shiels, Rankin, O’Brien, Fletcher, Nish.