After waiting 30 years to pull on a Hibs shirt, Danny Swanson took only 24 minutes to claim his first goal for the club he’s supported all his life, opening the scoring as the Capital side began their preparations for the new season with a 4-0 win over Dunfermline.
A clever one-two with Callum Crane saw the playmaker, who scored 15 goals for St Johnstone last season, deliver a clever finish and, even although this may only have been a friendly, it was a moment he’ll no doubt look back on with more than a degree of enjoyment.
The much-travelled Jermaine Pennant went close to making it two before the interval, his free kick hitting the woodwork before he did score, turning home a John McGinn pass 13 minutes after the interval.
McGinn, introduced to the game as a half-time substitute, proved to be the inspiration behind a resounding victory, his pass allowing Martin Boyle, who had replaced Pennant, to score Hibs’ third and it was the midfielder who was again the provider, his cross nodded home by teenage striker Oli Shaw.
As you’d expect for the opening pre-season friendly, one of three in just six days for Neil Lennon’s players, the side which took to the field at East End Park took on something of an experimental look with former Arsenal and Liverpool man Pennant, who has been training with the Capital outfit for almost two weeks, listed as a trialist in the starting line-up.
With Efe Ambrose and Paul Hanlon not included in the party which travelled across the Forth, 18-year-old Ryan Porteous partnered Liam Fontaine in central defence while another teenager Shaw, a prolific scorer for the club’s development team last season, was up front alongside Brian Graham.
Swanson was also on from the start but another summer arrival Simon Murray had to be content with a place on the bench for this one although Lennon will rotate his squad in the coming matches against Sunderland and Berwick Rangers to give each of his players some game time before their Betfred Cup opener against Montrose a week on Saturday.
Hibs, having packed in days of double sessions, had trained again before heading for Dunfermline to begin regaining full match fitness, the Pars having already enjoyed one public outing, a 4-2 defeat by Partick Thistle, who are the Edinburgh club’s opponents on the opening day of the Premiership season in a month’s time.
As such, Allan Johnston’s players looked that little bit sharper in the opening minutes, David Hopkirk firing over and then steering a header wide before Lennon’s players got going.
And when they did, it didn’t take them long to get in front, Swanson linking well with Crane on the left flank, the youngster having the presence of mind to cut the ball back for his team-mate to steer beyond goalkeeper Sean Murdoch and into the far corner of his net.
Dunfermline had caused Hibs a problem or two during their season together in the Championship and they finished the first half strongly, Kallum Higginbotham’s clever ball leaving Hopkirk with only Marciano to beat but the Israeli internationalist “stood big” as the shot crashed off his left shoulder.
Jean-Yves M’Voto powered a header over before Lee Ashcroft thought he had scored, pouncing on the ball after Marciano had dropped it as they challenged for Higginbotham’s free-kick. But referee Kevin Clancy came to the goalkeeper’s rescue, judging he had been impeded by the Pars defender.
And the half ended in controversy, Dunfermline’s Aaron Splaine lucky not to be shown the red card – as Pars player Jason Talbot had been in the corresponding fixture two years ago for a two-footed lunge on Dominic Malonga. Having already been spoken to by Clancy for a string of niggly fouls, Splaine chopped down the industrious McGeouch from behind, prompting a furious reaction from Marvin Bartley but only a yellow card from the ref.
From the resulting free-kick, Pennant was only an inch or two from doubling Hibs’ lead, his effort from 25 yards crashing off the inside of Murdoch’s right-hand post and to safety.
Lennon made the expected raft of half-time changes, seven substitutes in all taking to the field with one of them, the highly-rated teenager Fraser Murray wasting no time in firing in a shot whihc zipped inches over the crossbar.
Pennant got the goal the woodwork had denied him in the first half, taking McGinn’s pass deep inside the Pars penalty area before calmly drilling the ball low into the net from six yards, only for Lennon to make his final change, replacing him with Boyle.
The slenderly-built Shaw hadn’t been getting much of a return from the imposing figure of M’Voto but he went close, finding space at the back post to meet David Gray’s cross only to send his header looping over, his reaction telling you he felt he should have done much better.
Boyle snatched Hibs’ third in style in the 71st minute, taking McGinn’s crossfield pass on his chest and using the acres of space he had to work in to square up M’Voto before drilling the ball low into the far corner of the net.
Shaw made it four with 18 minutes to play, getting on the end of McGinn’s cross to again leave Murdoch helpless.
Scott Lochead almost claimed a consolation for the Pars in the closing minutes but Gray was there to boot his effort off the line.
Dunfermline: Murdoch, Morris, M’Voto, Ashcroft (Coulson 63), Williamson, Splaine (Paton 46), Wedderburn (Lochead 84), L Martin (Duthie 81), Higginbotham (King 69), Clark (Smith 78), Hopkirk (Cardle 55). Unused subs: Gill, Luke, Allan, Morrison.
Hibs: Marciano (Laidlaw 46), Gray, Porteous, Fontaine (McGregor 46), Crane (Stevenson 46), Bartley (F Murray 46), McGeouch, Pennant, Swanson (S Martin 46), Graham (S Murray (46), Shaw.
Referee: Kevin Clancy