Falkirk 1 - 2 Hibernian: Cummings gets Hibs off to a flyer
Jason Cummings highlighted just why Peterborough have made a Â£1 million plus offer for the 21-year-old with two goals to get Hibs season off to a flyer.
It took Cummings only 88 seconds to claim his first, turning the ball home after Falkirk goalkeeper Danny Rogers couldn’t hold James Keatings shot and although Craig Sibbald equalised shortly afterwards, the Easter Road hotshot struck again three minutes into the second half with what proved to be the winning goal.
With Hibs still awaiting clearance to play new goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, Ross Laidlaw was given the chance to shine on the opening day of the new Championship season while skipper David Gray returned to action having recovered from the shoulder injury sustained against Brondby in Copenhagen.
But Dylan McGeouch failed to shake off his hamstring problem and Marvin Bartley, who had been suffering from a back injury, was deemed fit enough only for the bench, his absence thrusting youngster Scott Martin into the midfield engine room.
Hibs got off to the dream start, Grant Holt finding Keatings in space outside the Bairns penalty area, the striker having time to drill in a low shot which Falkirk goalkeeper Danny Rogers could only push aside.
Cumming was the first to react, claiming his first goal of the season with an easy tap in from six yards out.
But Hibs lead lasted barely seven minutes, Sibbald picking up a loose ball 25 yards out and unleashing a thunderous left foot shot which flew past Laidlaw and into the top corner of his net.
Falkirk had settled after that shock start, Liam Fontaine forced into an important tackle to prevent Sibbald getting another sight of goal before Gray found Cummings in space at the other end, last season’s top scorer poking the ball past Rogers only for Paul Watson to intercept before it could reach Holt.
And Hibs went close again when Holt displayed fantastic vision, knocking the ball over the top for Cummings to beat Bairns defender Luca Gasparotto only to see Rogers clutch his attempted lob high above his head.
Falkirk appeared vulnerable to the ball over the top and Rogers did just enough coming to the edge of his area to thwart Cummings again as he attempted to latch onto John McGinn’s pass.
However, the game was finely poised and Falkirk threatened when Sibbald’s free-kick was headed down by Darren McGregor but only as far as Bob McHugh who saw his low shot deflected over by the wall of yellow shirts in front of him.
Hibs were ahead again just three minutes into the second half and once more it was that man Cummings. Holt spotted his fellow striker’s run, playing the ball over the top for Cummings to hold off Falkirk captain David McCracken before rifling an angled shot beyond Rogers.
Again Falkirk were rocked but they gathered themselves, weathering three corners in succession, before Scott Martin’s slide tackle inadvertently put the ball into the path of McHugh who skipped past Paul Hanlon and then driving a low cross into the danger area where Gray came to Hibs rescue with a superb clearance.
Overall, though, Hibs looked comfortable and the team more likely to add to their lead, Cummings once again getting on the end of a ball over the top but his backward header never carried enough power to trouble Rogers.
But as the game went into the final few minutes Laidlaw had to stand “big” to pull off a great save from Falkirk substitute Lee Miller before McHugh went close with a rising shot from a tight angle.
Hibs, though, came through that late storm, which included loud shouts for a penalty when substitute Nathan Austin went down under McGregor’s challenge, a claim which didn’t interest referee Kevin Clancy in the slightest.
FALKIRK: Rogers, Watson, McCracken, Gasparotto, Leahy, Sibbald (Miller 78), Taiwo (Craigen 71), Rankin, Muirhead, McHugh, Baird (Austin 60).
Substitutes not used: Henderson, Kidd, Hippolyte.
HIBS: Laidlaw, McGregor (Forster 88), Hanlon, Fontaine, Gray, Martin (Bartley 69), Keatings (Boyle 84), McGinn, Stevenson, Cummings, Holt.
Substitutes not used:Virtanen, Stanton, Carmichael, Harris.