Dundee Utd 2 Hibs 2: Butcher’s boys squander two-goal lead

Liam Craig opens the scoring for Hibs at Tannadice. Picture: SNS
Liam Craig opens the scoring for Hibs at Tannadice. Picture: SNS
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Hibs threw away a two-goal lead and were forced to settle for a point as Dundee United mounted a fightback to claim an equaliser with only 30 seconds remaining at Tannadice.

Skipper Liam Craig looked to have secured a fourth successive win for the Capital club. opening the scoring in the first half and claiming a second from the penalty spot on the hour mark.

But David Goodwillie threw United a lifeline eight minutes from time and they took it as fellow substitute Brian Graham turned Goodwillie’s shot beyond Hibs goalkeeper Ben Williams.

Terry Butcher made just one change to the side which enjoyed the New Year derby triumph, experienced striker Paul Heffernan replacing 18-year-old Jason Cummings as he had done as a second-half substitute against Hearts.

Goals from corners have featured greatly in recent matches for Hibs and they almost took the lead from the first one in this match, James Collins rising above everyone to meet Liam Craig’s cross only to see ex-Easter Road star John Rankin take his header off the line.

A Michael Nelson foul on Ryan Gauld presented Nadir Ciftci with the opportunity to test Williams from 35 yards and he did so with a rising shot which the Hibs goalkeeper took at the second attempt.

Another Craig corner, though, saw Nelson win the ball at the back post, forcing United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak to push his header over, giving Hibs another corner, this time from the right. It was whipped in by Paul Cairney and, again, the United defence looked less than comfortable, Cierzniak managing to clear with an unconvincing punch.

But there was a real let-off for Hibs after 30 mminutes when Ciftci played an inviting ball through for Gary Mackay-Steven, Ryan McGivern stepping aside to let Williams clear as he came out of his area only for the goalkeeper to completely miss the ball.

Mackay-Steven looked certain to roll the ball into the empty net but he was impeded by Williams who was no doubt mightily relieved to see the far side assistant referee Graham McNeillie raise the offside flag against the Tannadice winger.

And Hibs made the most of that escape as they took the lead in the 37th minute, Heffernan picked off Mark Wilson’s pass as United attempted to play out from the back before releasing a United caused Hibs a couple of anxious moments on the restart, Gauld drilling a low shot just wide before Andy Robertson sent a raking cross in from the left which Williams helped on its way.

But it was Hibs who almost doubled their lead in the 53rd minute, Heffernan taking Collins’ knock down before switching from his right foot to left and firing in a shot which whistled inches wide.

perfectly timed and weighted pass for Craig to lash home a low shot from 16 yards.

And it was the captain who claimed his and Hibs second goal in the 60th minute, sending Czierniak the wrong way from the penalty spot after referee Steven McLean adjudged John Souttar guilty of a push in the back of Collins.

Hibs looked comfortable but were grateful to a superb reflex save from Williams to keep them two ahead, the goalkeeper somehow throwing out an arm to divert Paul Hanlon’s sliced clearance as he attempted to intercept a Mackay-Steven cross at the front post.

Then came that late strike from Goodwillie to leave Hibs hanging on in the wake of an onslaught from United which resulted in that last-gasp equaliser from Graham.

Dundee United: Cierzniak, Wilson (Dillon 46), Souttar, Gunning, A Robertson, Paton, Rankin, Mackay-Steven, Gauld (Goodwillie 58), Armstrong, Ciftci (Graham 40)..

Substitutes not used: McCallum, Butcher, Erskine, Dow.

Hibs: Williams. Forster, Nelson, Hanlon, McGivern, Cairney (Stanton 75), S Robertson, Craig, Stevenson, Collins, Heffernan.

Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Tudur Jones, Maybury, Handling, Zoubir, Cummings.

Referee: Steven McLean.