RAMPANT Hibs were flying high after a magnificent seven fired them back into third place in the SPL and put arch-rivals Hearts firmly back in their sights.
Hibs 7, Livingston 0
February 8, 2006
Boss Tony Mowbray may have viewed the visit of relegation-haunted Livingston as something of an accident waiting to happen in the wake of the Easter Road outfit’s crushing of Rangers the previous weekend, but it was apparent from the opening few minutes that Hibs would be in little danger.
By the time referee Charlie Richmond signalled the end of proceedings, perhaps the only disappointment among the Hibs fans was that they hadn’t witnessed their side smash the record winning margin in the SPL.
For a long spell it looked as if the recently-installed scoreboard at Easter Road might have to cope with a double figure score-line as shot after shot rained in on Roddy McKenzie’s goal. It was purely down to an inspired display from the former Hearts keeper that the hapless Lions avoided further humiliation.
Mowbray, however, was more content to focus on the three points rather than glory in how many goals were scored. The victory not only lifted Hibs above Rangers but, coupled with the Ibrox club’s 2-0 defeat by Aberdeen at Pittodrie, hauled them level with Alex McLeish’s outfit in the goals count.
As humble as ever in victory, Mowbray’s immediate thought was for his fellow manager Paul Lambert, who admitted the only saving grace was that fellow relegation strugglers Dunfermline had thrown away a two-goal lead against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
With new signing Chris Killen adding a further dimension to Hibs’ play – the big Kiwi was happy to play with his back to goal and link things up – Mowbray’s reshuffled side looked hungry from the start.
And Killen again showed his eye for goal, bundling the ball over the line for a close-range opener after McKenzie had twice thwarted Garry O’Connor. Mowbray had given his side a dressing down only a couple of weeks ago for a lack of what he described as “scruffy goals”, those scored from a couple of yards out by whatever means.
There were no complaints on this occasion, however, as Derek Riordan fired home his 14th goal of the season from the penalty spot after he was brought down before O’Connor slid in at the back post to claim the third four minutes after the interval.
At that stage it was clear it was only going to be a matter of how many. Ivan Sproule saw a low shot blocked by McKenzie, another stopped on the line by Greg Strong and a third saved by the goalkeeper, only for the ball to break to Riordan to claim his second of the game. Livingston’s Dave Mackay deflected a Stephen Glass corner into his own net and then substitute Steven Fletcher completed the rout with two goals in the last couple of minutes – but only after Glass had hit the post and then lashed over from only ten yards out.