THE killer streak was revealed in Hibs young guns as they finished off Kilmarnock from three dead ball situations.
It was all conducted with a chilling ruthlessness worthy of the James gang and there was nothing ‘Judge’ Jim Jefferies on the bench could do about it.
Kilmarnock had come to attack and deserved to score, but found Hibs goalkeeper Daniel Andersson on top form, Mathias Doumbe formidable at the back, while bad luck and their own slackness found them wanting in front of goal.
Hibs provided a lesson on how it should be done and how precocious of them. The front six Bobby Williamson put out were all under 21.
Kilmarnock should have gone ahead in the ninth minute. Eric Skora dribbled through the Hibs defence to find Craig Dargo unmarked in the six-yard box. The striker seemed unsure the ball would reach him and tamely poked it at Andersson. His partner Kris Boyd could only follow up from an offside position.
With Dargo’s pace troubling Colin Murdock, Skora driving hard through midfield and Boyd and Dargo criss-crossing, Hibs’ central defence was in danger of collapsing – until respite came in the most splendid fashion.
Hibs were awarded a free-kick more than 30 yards out and impatience began to stir in the crowd when Gary Caldwell and Derek Riordan dallied over the ball as Gary O’Connor and Kevin Thomson formed their own wall in front of Kilmarnock’s. It seemed unnecessarily intricate until Caldwell sent a flashing free-kick into Colin Meldrum’s top corner. A goal of such calibre often turns a game and it now began to head in Hibs’ direction.
Hibs pressed the play, squeezing the space out of Kilmarnock’s midfield, and with O’Connor bearing the burden of target man, Riordan was free to cut across and behind the defence and nearly added another goal in 39th minute with a snap-shot on the turn that almost sneaked inside Meldrum’s near post.
His appetite whetted, the young striker moved inside a minute later, rounding both central defenders, but Meldrum came off his line to make a brave save.
Even as the game drifted into added time, the hunger of Hibs was unabated and as they piled forward, Skorla handled the ball 25 yards out. This time, Thomson insisted on having a go and he curled the ball audaciously into the top corner with his left foot.
In the 63rd minute, Riordan crossedto the back post and Brown’s header was cleared only as far as O’Connor. With the Kilmarnock defence dragged every which way but loose, Greer stabbed out a leg as the striker stepped around him and went down. It was Riordan’s turn to step up and he found the bottom right-hand corner as Meldrum went the other way.