HIBS crashed to a second successive defeat as Raith Rovers clocked up a third win in a week to keep their faint play-off hopes alive.
Scorers: Raith Rovers - Stewart (53),′ Vaughan (84)′; Hibernian - Fyvie (56′)
The Easter Road side twice hit the woodwork as they totally dominated the first half onlky for Mark Stewart to shock them by volleying Rovers into a 53rd minute lead which lasted just four minutes before Fraser Fyvie levelled it for the Capital club.
But with six minute left Lewis Vaughan was on the spot to force the ball home after Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley couild only block a low shot from Raith’s Ryan Conroy.
And with Rangers beating Cowdenbeath 2-1, Hibs now face an uphill struggle to take second place in the Championship table, now level on points with the Ibrox outfit who have a game in hand.
While Raith boss Grant Murray made no changes to the side which had beaten Queen of the South 3-0 in midweek, Hibs were forced into one switch, Paul Hanlon dropping out through injury with Keith Watson moving in to partner Liam Fontaine in central defence.
Farid El Alagui made a welcome appearance on the Easter Road outfit’s bench after almost seven months out with a ruptured achilles tendon. Top scorer Jason Cummings was also among the Hibs substitutes as was Franck Dja Djedje.
Dylan McGeouch and Dominique Malonga had both tested Raith goalkeeper David McGurn before a delightful touch by Malonga found the overlapping David Gray, the full-back driving forward before firingn in a low shot from a tight angle which beat McGurn but came back off the far post.
Gray was again the threat, coming in at the back post to meet Lewis Stevenson’s deep cross from the opposite flank to send a header back across goal but wide of the target.
With McGeouch, Scott Allan and Fyvie all interchaning in the middle of the park Hibs were playing some fluid football despite the gusting wind sweeping across Stark’s Park.
Raith were struggling to gain much in the way of possession and Malonga almost gave them the lead in the 29th minute, rising to meet Gray’s cross, his header coming back off the bar, clipping Jason Thomson and going behind for a corner.
From it Sam Stanton directed a header goalwards but Conroy was on the line to nod the ball away.
Stanton should have done better a minute before half-time, the midfielder in the right place to meet Gray’s cutback from McGeouch’s cross but the youngster didn’t get enough power on his shot which was deflected wide.
Hibs paid the price for not making that first half dominance count when Raith took the lead with a superb goal from Stewart, the striker jidged his run perfectly to meet Jason Thomson’s cross on the volley, sending the ball beyond the helpless Oxley.
The Fifers’ joy, however, lasted just four minutes, Scott Allan’s blocked shot spinning out to Fyvie who steadied himself before drilling the ball into the far corner of the net.
The game had become stretched with both sides going for it, Scott Robertson coming up with a terrific last-ditch challenge to stop Vaughan getting on the end of Stewart’s pass before Scott Allan found Gray all alone inside the Raith penalty area, McGurn coming to his side’s rescue with a superb point-blank save.
And Raith made the most of it, Oxley doing well to block Ryan Conroy’s shot only for the ball to fall for Vaughan who forced it over the line.