Hibs took a big step towards securing Scottish Premier League survival after victory away to Aberdeen moved them five points clear of the relegation spot.
Safety was in their own hands and they knew their place in the SPL would be secure if they could avoid defeat against Dunfermline Athletic the following Wednesday – a match in which Pat Fenlon’s team triumphed 4-0.
Hibees striker Leigh Griffiths proved the key man yet again – his goals a vital ingredient in keeping Hibs in the top-flight.
He was instrumental in setting up the chance which led to the opening goal when he drilled the ball across the six-yard line for the unfortunate Mark Reynolds to deflect into his own net past Jamie Lanfield on seven minutes.
The visitors, who did not have the best of records at Pittodrie, were now dominating and it wasn’t long before Hibs centre-back Sean O’Hanlon flicked a header into the back of the net from a Griffiths corner to double the visitors’ advantage 10 minutes later.
The Dons did manage to carve out a first-half chance with Kari Arnason picking up Jamie Masson’s long-range pass, but the Icelander could not take control of the ball sufficiently to capitalise.
However, this move did expose some of Hibs’ all-too-familiar defensive frailties, with neither O’Hanlon or Paul Hanlon picking up Arnason.
As the first half wore on Aberdeen gained a sense of urgency, but, on several occasions, their strikers were caught offside as the ball came forward. The visitors then countered, with Griffiths exposing some half-hearted Aberdeen defending, but he flicked his shot over the bar.
The lively Griffiths then picked up a route-one ball from goalkeeper Mark Brown to split the Dons defence, but his fierce effort flew past Langfield’s left-hand post.
The second half started brightly and Vernon volleyed home from close range after Gavin Rae headed the ball back across goal to get Aberdeen back into the match and raise Hibs’ nerves.
The goal gave the home side confidence, and they enjoyed a spell of dominance but failed to carve out much in the way of clear chances.
However, Arnason took the intiative and lashed a drive from 25 yards which keeper Brown had to look lively to tip over the bar.
Hibs did manage a rare break up the field in the second half and Roy O’Donovan set up fellow substitute David Wotherspoon inside the box, but the left-sided player lofted his shot over the bar.
The nerves in the visitors’ defence were showing, but Aberdeen’s Josh Magennis headed an injury-time corner over the bar and the Capital side left with all three points.
Hibs: Brown, Doherty, Hanlon, O’Hanlon, Kujabi, Francomb, Claros, Soares, Osbourne, O’Connor, Griffiths.