Hibs 2, Livingston 1: Franck Dja Djedje stuns Lions

Franck Dja Djedje celebrates at full time having scored the winner
Franck Dja Djedje celebrates at full time having scored the winner
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Hibs consolidated second spot in the Championship to move five points clear of Rangers after a narrow 2-1 victory over bottom club Livingston.

The hosts, in truth, were vastly superior than their opponents from West Lothian and were menacing throughout.

But It seemed those missed opportunities in front of goal would come back to haunt the home side as Livi striker Ibra Sekajja equalised with just four minutes remaining.

However, Franck Dje Djedje’s glancing header just a minute later from Lewis Stevenson’s cross gave Alan Stubbs’ men the three points they richly deserved and still on course to finish second behind Capital rivals Hearts in the race for promotion from the Championship.

The Hibs head coach had stressed prior to the match his intentions of making use of a fully-fit squad and he kept to his word making four changes from Sunday’s Scottish Cup victory over Berwick Rangers – David Gray, Scott Allan, Dylan McGeouch and Dominique Malonga all dropping out of the starting XI in favour of Keith Watson, Liam Craig, Martin Boyle and Franck Dja Djedje.

Livingston defender Declan Gallagher was almost caught out within the first six minutes when he attempted to shield the ball out of play, but Dja Djedje read the situation and was quick to gather before his cut back picked out Cummings from just inside the box whose shot went wide of the target.

Too often Hibs were presented with huge gaps to work with in the heart of the Livi defence and Cummings was again guilty of miscuing wide of goalkeeper Darren Jamieson’s far post.

A deep cross to the back post from Lewis Stevenson then found Martin Boyle and the on-loan Dundee man drove straight off the knees of Jamieson with the ball rebounding to safety.

Skipper Liam Craig’s free-kick delivery picked out Boyle whose header came back off the top of the crossbar but Jamieson wasn’t troubled.

Gallagher was far too causal in his approach and Hibs almost capitalised as Scott Robertson intercepted the defender’s pass and put Cummings in on goal, but once again the youngster failed to test Jamieson as he dragged his shot wide.

Perseverance finally paid off for the home side, though, as a delightfully weighted pass from Craig sent Cummings clear and despite his earlier inaccuracies, he had the courage to round Jamieson and roll the ball into the net for the opener after half an hour.

Callum Fordyce was next to thwart a resilient Hibs side as Cumming’s net-bound shot was cleared off the line after Jamieson had parried Boyle’s first-time effort.

Hibs almost made it two just six minutes later when a beautifully disguised pass from Watson sent Boyle in from the wing and from his cross, the ball went right across Jamieson’s goal with no takers from the men in green-and-white.

Livi were quick out of the traps after the interval and almost grabbed an equaliser within five minutes after good link-up play between Sekajja and Michael McKenna allowed Scott Pittman time to get his shot away goal before it was blocked by the trailing leg of Paul Hanlon.

There was an appeal for a penalty on the hour mark when a long ball from Watson inside his own half sent Cummings on the chase.

The teenager won his race to the ball ahead of Darren Cole and just as it looked Cummings would get his shot away inside the box, the No.35 tumbled to the deck with his arms raised but referee Stephen Finnie waved play on.

Boyle was again proving a menace with his pace and athleticism and from his cut back, Cummings again managed to spin away from Cole but drove high over Jamieson’s crossbar.

There was a real concern for Stubbs’ men though when a long throw from Myles Hippolyte somehow evaded the Hibs defence and there was Sekajja to notch his first goal for the club since joining in January with just three minutes remaining.

However, the visitors’ jubilation quickly turned to dejection as Stevenson’s pin point cross found Dja Djedje who got in ahead of his marker to glance a terrific header into the far corner for the winner just a minute later.

Hibs: Oxley, Watson, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, Robertson, Craig (Stanton 79), Boyle, Fyvie, Dja Djedje, Cummings (McGeouch 69). Subs: Perntreou, Forster, Handling, Allan, Malonga.

Livingston: Jamieson, Fordyce, Gallagher, Sives, Talbot (Glen 82), Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs, McKenna (Hippolyte 75), Cole, Pittman (Mullen 69), Sekajja. Subs: Walker, O’Brien, Praprotnik, Beaumont.

Referee: Stephen Finnie

Attendance: 7857