Hibernian 2 - 1 Dunfermline: Cummings grabs match winner
A BUMPER crowd of more than 16,000 watched Hibs clock up their second Championship win - but how Dunfermline made the Easter Road side work for their victory.
An own goal from Ben Richards-Everton had given the Capital club a first half lead although, but for the heroics of Pars goalkeeper David Hutton it could have been by more.
But on-loan Hearts striker Gavin Reilly hauled the visitors level only for Callum Fordyce, playing his first match since last September when he suffered a broken ankle, to gift Hibs the winner.
The defender completely missed Martin Boyle’s low cross, leaving Jason Cummings to claim the match-winner from inside the six yard box.
Hibs boss Neil Lennon gave those players who had disappointed against Queen of the South the chance to atone for that Betfred Cup defeat by naming the same side, meaning midfielder Dylan McGeouch could only make the bench after recovering from the hamstring problem which had kept him out in recent weeks.
The Pars were the first to threaten, Joe Cardle cutting in from the left to fire in a low right footed shot which Hibs goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw comfortably held before his opposite number David Hutton had to race from his line to put in an important block as a clever one-two between Jason Cummings and Grant Holt threatened to open up the visiting defence.
Richards-Everton then had to get in front of Holt to prevent the Hibs striker getting on the end of Lewis Stevenson’s cross and then Cummings tried his luck as space opened up in front of him only for Hutton to get down and smother his shot.
A poor pass back from Lewis Martin put the Fife club in trouble, Cummings winning the race with Hutton to reach the ball, the striker attempting to curl the ball back over his head and into the net. But Richards-Everton had spotted the danger and was back on his own line to nod clear, the ball falling for Holt who tried to steer it into the far corner but succeeded only in sending it inches wide.
But Hibs did get their noses in front in the 28th minute. Darren McGregor got up to meet James Keatings’ corner from the left, his header taken off the line by Cardle. The ball looped up into the air and was nodded back towards goal by Paul Hanlon, tempting Richards-Everton to try to get his head to it. He did so but managed only to deflect the ball into his own net.
John McGinn almost made it two a couple of minutes later thundering in a rising shot from 25 yards which Hutton, at full-stretch, just managed to touch over and he was again flying through the air to get his fingertips to another effort from the Hibs midfielder, this time turning the ball past the post.
Having pulled off those two saves, Hutton probably felt he was due the touch of luck he enjoyed when Cummings rose to meet Lewis Stevenson’s cross to direct a header towards the back post, the ball coming back off the woodwork and into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Hibs would have been mindful, though, of how a 1-0 interval lead in midweek had been so dramatically overturned and they were given a reminder when Kallum Higginbotham made room on the right before firing in a cross which required the outstretched leg of McGregor to prevent the ball reaching Dunfermline striker Michael Moffat.
But that warning wasn’t heeded and the Pars hauled themselves level in the 57th minute, Ryan Williamson playing the ball inside for Cardle who wrong-footed the Hibs defence to slip in Reilly who was left with only Laidlaw to beat - which he did.
As on Tuesday night, Hibs were beginning to look a bit ragged as Dunfermline grew in confidence, Rhys McCabe whistling a free-kick just wide with Laidlaw struggling to get there.
But it was another defensive mistake from Dunfermline which gifted Hibs the lead for a second time, substitutes Dylan McGeouch and Boyle combining to force an error from the Pars Fordyce,
Boyle used his searing pace to get onto the end of McGeouch’s pass, cutting the ball across goal where, to his horror, Fordyce, totally missed it, leaving Cummings with the easy task to claim his third goal of the season.
Hibs: Laidlaw, McGregor, Hanlon, Fontaine McGeouch 74), Gray, Bartley (Forster 90+2), McGinn, Stevenson, Keatings, Cummings, Holt (Boyle 68).
Substitutes not used: Virtanen, Harris, Crane, S Martin.
Dunfermline: Hutton, Williamson, Fordyce, Richards-Everton, L Martin, Higginbotham, Geggan, McCabe, Cardle, Reilly, Moffat (Hopkirk 82).
Substitutes not used: Gill, Talbot, Paton, Spence, McMullan, Lochhead.
Referee: Willie Collum