DUNDEE United staged a storming second-half comeback to leave Pat Fenlon still seeking his first win as Hibs boss, this latest defeat leaving the Easter Road outfit and Dunfermline adrift at the foot of the SPL table.
Fenlon, who could have been United manager, had watched his side take the lead with a delightful finish from Leigh Griffiths mid-way through the first period - Hibs first goal in three matches - but United were totally transformed after the interval, scoring through Johnny Russell and a double from skipper Jon Daly.
Hibs were dealt a blow before kick-off with top scorer Garry O’Connor missing out with a damaged big toe, but Griffiths returned after serving his one-match ban.
Danny Galbraith dropped to the bench with Victor Palsson enjoying his first start under new boss Pat Fenlon.The opening 20 minutes or so did little to thrill the Tannadice crowd, neither side managing to create a clear-cut opening until Hibs midfielder Martin Scott fired a low ball across the six-yard area which team-mate Griffiths was just unable to reach.
Griffiths, though, was on target in the 23rd minute, supplying the deftest of touches to slip the ball beyond United goalkeeper Dusan Pernis after latching onto Scott’s delightful ball over the top of the home defence. This was former Dundee hitman Griffith’s first match at Tannadice so there was little wonder he seemed to enjoy the goal just that little bit more.
There was a momentary scare for Hibs when former Easter Road star John Rankin found Russell in space inside the penalty area. He managed to get his shot away with David Stephens bearing down on him, his effort going wide although he was adamant the Hibs defender had got a touch on the ball although referee Stevie Conroy thought otherwise.
Griffiths almost made it two for Hibs three minutes from the interval when he met Palsson’s cross with a precise header, pulling a terrific one-handed save from Pernis as he threw himself high to his right.
Little had been seen of United as an attacking force and, indeed, Gavin Gunning’s trundling shot which was easily gathered by Graham Stack in the 47th minute was their first effort on target.
But the Tayside club almost hauled themselves level five minutes later, Daly’s cushioned header leaving Scott Robertson with only Stack to beat - but the Hibs goalkeeper spread himself superbly to block, the resultant corner the first of a string United were to win over the course of the next couple of minutes.
United were a different proposition now and it was no surprise when they equalised in the 59th minute, Stuart Armstrong supplying the final touch for Russell to round Stack and roll the ball home.
Hibs were starting to have to hold on as United went for a second, Russell curling one just wide after Daly’s lay-off had offered him another glimpse of Stack’s goal.
A second goal for United, however, was merely delayed, skipper Daly getting above Paul Hanlon in the 76th minute to nod home Paul Dixon’s inviting cross.
Hibs attempted to hit back, Hanlon not far away with a header from Griffiths corner before Pernis just managed to shovel away a shot from substitute Danny Galbraith.
Daly, however, sealed all three points for United two minutes from time, ruled onside as he raced onto Rankin’s header before sliding the ball beyond Stack.
Dundee United: Pernis, Dillon, Dixon, Robertson, Daly, Rankin, Russell (Allan 90), Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, Gunning, Neilson (Kenneth 83). Subs not used: Banks, Douglas, Dalla Valle, Dow, Hilson.
Hibs: Stack, Hart (Galbraith 72), O’Hanlon, Stephens, Hanlon, Palsson, Stevenson, Wotherspoon, Scott (Sodje 79), Sproule ( Murray 88) Griffiths. Subs not used: Brown, Welsh, Booth, Towell.
Referee: Stevie O’Reilly