Ayr United 0 - 4 Hibs: Champions leave Ayr on cusp of relegation
Hibs underlined the gulf between the top and bottom of the Championship table as they steamrollered sorry Ayr United at Somerset Park.
Jason Cummings and Martin Boyle had Hibs two ahead at half-time with substitute James Keatings and Cummings, with his 23rd goal of the season, completing a comfortable win which leaves Ayr needing to beat Raith Rovers by at least six goals in their final game to avoid automatic relegation although even that unlikely scenario would still see them facing a play-off if they are to retain their Championship status.
A poor header from Daryll Meggat presented Cummings with a third minute chance, Hibs top scorer taking the ball round goalkeeper Greg Fleming but from a tight angle and on his weaker right foot his shot came off the outside of the post.
A superb run from Boyle, starting inside his own half and carrying him from left to right ended with an inviting pass for Grant Holt but the striker couldn’t get his shot on target as Hibs continued to make the early running against the Championship’s basement club.
But Hibs did make the breakthrough 27 minutes in, John McGinn pouncing on a poor clearance to power his way to the bye-line before delivering a cross for Cummings who placed his header perfectly to claim his 22nd goal of the season.
Three minutes later it was two, Fraser Fyvie finding Hold in what Ayr felt was an offside position but the big hit-man didn’t hang about as he took a look up before firing a low ball across goal, Cummings leaving it for Boyle coming in behind him to hammer it high into the roof of the net from four yards out.
Holt went close to making it three, rising to meet McGinn’s cross but sending the ball arcing inches wide of the far post.
Ayr boss Ian McCall had obviously had words with his players following an insipid first half but even so Hibs looked more likely to add to those two first half goals, Boyle sending a curling shot just wide before McGinn’s cross somehow eluded Grant at the back post and then Chris Humphrey forced Fleming to push over his vicious, rising shot.
Substitute Keatings continued where he had left off against Raith Rovers in midweek, slotting Cummings pass under Fleming to claim a third goal for Hibs with 24 minutes remaining as Ayr’s season-long stay in the Championship came to an end.
Hibs goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw had been very much a spectator, but he had to leap high to his left to touch over a long-range shot from Meggat and so deny the Honest Men even a consolation goal, Cummings rubbing it in by claiming his second and Hibs fourth in the 72nd minute
And Laidlaw again ensured a clean sheet for Hibs, using his feet to block Gary Harkins low shot before Nicky Devlin fired over.