Hibs lost further ground on arch-rivals and Championship leaders Hearts after a second half goal from ex-Jambos striker Christian Nade forced them to settle for a draw against Raith Rovers.
The Capital side were leading thanks to Scott Robertson’s first goal of the season but after their heroics against Rangers at the beginning of the week were brought crashing back down to earth when Nade scored , a goal which, on their second half display Raith thoroughly deserved.
The draw robbed Hibs of the chance of leapfrogging the Fife club into fourth place in the table where they now lie a yawning 12 points behind high-flying Hearts.
Hibs began with the side which finished against Rangers meaning Lewis Stevenson lined up at right wing back in the absence of the injured David Gray with Callum Booth, facing the team he played for on loan last season, on the opposite flank.
Man of the moment Jason Cummings almost had Hibs ahead twice within seconds, the teenager stabbing Booth’s low cross goalwards only to see Ross Laidlaw make a superb instinctive save before the goalkeeper displayed razor-sharp reactions as the striker flicked his left heel at the rebound to deny the Hibs man again.
Raith were operatiing with Christian Nade as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation but the Fife side were keen to get forward when the opportunity arose and the former Hearts striker caused a wee flutter in the home defence as he angled a low ball across the face of Hibs’ goal only inches out of the reach of Martin Scott.
But it was Hibs who continued to hold the upper-hand and Scott Allan went close when, Having taken a pass from Cummings he saw his effort strike Raith defender Laurie Ellis and drop agonisingly wide before Liam Craig went close twice in two minutes with volleys which, again, were only inches off target.
However, Raith almost stunned their hosts three minutes from the interval when Barrie McKay latched onto the ball 25 yards out and unleashed a tremendous right foot shot which crashed back off the underside of Mark Oxley’s crossbar.
Having survived that scare Hibs took the lead they deserved, Stevenson supplying the pass for Robertson on the overlap, the midfielder’s low cross turned towards the back post by the heel of Cummings and looking like it was going wide until Booth drove it back into the danger area for Robertson to turn home from a couple of yards out.
Even then there was time for Rory McKeown to force Oxley into a smart save, diving to his left, before the teams headed up the tunnel.
Raith certainly saw more of the ball in the 20 minutes following the interval and Ryan Conroy should have done better than lob a tame effort into the arms of Oxley from Scott’s knock-down but for all their possession the Kirkcaldy club were unable to test the Hibs goalkeeper further.
The home fans, though, were a tad freftul, concious a one goal lead has rarely been of much comfort to their side in recent seasons, hence the groans which rang round the ground when Cummings elected to shoot with Booth in a far better position to his left, the ball trundling through to Laidlaw.
And their humour didn’t improve when the ball pin-balled around the Hibs penalty area before falling at the feet of Nade who expertly slid the ball beyond the helpless Oxley and then earning himself a booking for whipping off his shirt in celebration.
As far as Hibs were concerned there were too many passes failing to hit the intended recipient, a factor which hampered their bids to get forward in search of a second and, hopefully, winning goal.
Unfortunately it never came and Raith could depart feeling their point was entirely justified.
Hibs: Oxley, Forster, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, Robertson, S Allan (Harris 80), Craig (McGeouch 71), Booth; Cummings, Malonga (Heffernan 85).
Subs not used: Perntreou, Stanton, Handling, Kennedy.
Raith Rovers: Laidlaw, Thomsoin, Watson, Ellis, McKeown, McKay (Stewart 71), Moon, Fox, Scott, Conroy, Nade.
Subs not used: McGurn, Anderson, Callachan, Vaughan, Matthews, Bates.
Referee: John Beaton.