Hibee History: Whittaker strikes to break Thistle hearts

Steven Whittaker fires home Hibs' winner against Partick Thistle
Steven Whittaker fires home Hibs' winner against Partick Thistle
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Hibs could consider themselves fortunate to have taken all three points from what turned into a fascinating match at Easter Road.

The home side looked to have had the win sealed by half-time thanks to goals from Garry O’Connor and Stephen Dobbie.

But Thistle came right back into the match in the second half and James Grady pulled a goal back.

Adrian Madaschi scored a bizarre equaliser and Thistle looked the more likely winners, but young full-back Steven Whittaker secured the points for Hibs late on.

It was all looking so rosey for Hibs in the first half with Bobby Williamson’s side the first to threaten when Colin Murdock’s header was scrambled away for a corner by Jags man Derek Fleming on the line.

Thistle were lucky to survive twice in the seventh minute when, firstly, Kenny Milne controlled the ball with his arm in the box and then, when that went unpenalised, Dobbie fired just wide of the post.

But the Hibees deservedly took the lead a couple of minutes later when O’Connor skipped past two challenges before tucking the ball past Kenny Arthur in the visitors’ goal.

O’Connor sent another shot wide shortly afterwards and then Arthur had to look sharp to thwart Stephen Glass at his near post. But Hibs scored an excellent second goal after 35 minutes. O’Connor flicked the ball on to Scott Brown, who slipped it inside to Dobbie and the young striker emphatically dispatched it past Arthur ensuring the first 45 minutes belonged to the Leith club.

Thistle were unlucky not to pull a goal back immediately when Grady found Andy Thomson, who knocked the ball across the face of goal but the danger was cleared.

Hibs began the second half as they had finished the first, on top, but it was Thistle who scored the next goal.

A period of patiently-held possession culminated in a sweeping pass by Fleming to Grady, who met the ball first time to fire past Daniel Andersson from a narrow angle.

Fleming almost pulled Thistle level ten minutes later with a curling free-kick from 20 yards out, which Andersson did superbly to push over the bar.

Hibs were scrambling to stay ahead when, in 68 minutes, Andersson once again kept his side in front as Grady fired the ball at goal from ten yards, only for the Swede to pull off a marvellous reaction save to deny the striker. Moments later, he leapt through the air to claw a Grady header off the line.

The Jags got a deserved equaliser in somewhat fortuitous fashion after 78 minutes when Andersson’s attempted punch clear from a corner came off the head of Madaschi and rebounded into the net.

Stephane Bonnes should have put Thistle ahead to complete a remarkable comeback when he was picked out inside the six-yard box by Emmanuel Panther, but Andersson thwarted the former Celtic player with a fine block.

Incredibly, having had so little of the second-half play, Hibs regained the lead after 84 minutes when Whittaker beat his marker on the left of the penalty area before squeezing a shot in on goal, which found its way into the corner of the net.

Thistle’s luck was typified by a late effort by Fleming from outside the box that came off the bar.

Hibs: Andersson, Smith, Murdock, Brebner, Doumbe, Glass, O’Connor, Whittaker, Dobbie, Brown, Thomson