JASON Cummings scored for the third time this season against Raith Rovers, taking his tally for the season to 16 as Hibs claimed three precious points in their Championship title bid.
The 20-year-old saw his spot-kick saved by Raith goalkeeper Keith Cuthbert after he himself had been brought down by Rovers defender Kyle Benedictus.
But he showed great presence of mind to steer the rebound home despite Cuthbert again getting a hand to the ball.
And Raith ended the match with ten men, substitute Grant Anderson sent off after going in late on Paul Hanlon having earlier been booked for another late challenge on Lewis Stevenson.
Hibs skipper David Gray had recovered from the head knock suffered at Ibrox but head coach Alan Stubbs made three changes in wake of that defeat by Rangers, Liam Fontaine, replacing Darren McGregor at the back, Marvin Bartley coming in for the suspended Fraser Fyvie and Dominique Malonga prefered upfront to James Keatings.
However, new signing Chris Dagnall didn’t make the matchday squad, with his international clearance certificate, it is understood, having not come through from his previous club, Indian outfit Kerala Blasters.
It took Hibs a little while to get into their stride before Gray drilled over a low cross which was just too close to Cuthbert who then got his body behind a drive from Bartley although the Fife club had also threatened by then, John McGinn forced to put a dangerous ball from James Craigen behind.
Cuthbert was forced to look on anxiously as a high ball in from Lewis Stevenson on the left, intended as a cross, caught the top of his crossbar before dropping to safety.
The home side were looking flat, almost as if they were suffering a hangover from events at the beginning of the week, lacking that little spark against a Raith side badly hit by injuries to the extent ex-Hibs midfielder Scott Robertson had been pressed into an unfamiliar role at right back.
Top scorer Cummings attempted to give a subdued home support the lift they were looking for ten minutes before the interval, coming in from the right onto his favoured left foot only to see his curling effort dip just over.
Dylan McGeouch also went close, his cross eluding both Malonga and the inside of Cuthbert’s left hand post by inches as Hibs sought to break down a well organised Raith defence which, in truth, had probably been anticipating a sterner examination.
Stubbs undoubtedly had words to say during the interval and they appeared to have the desired effect, Cuthbert pushing away a low shot from McGinn before Cummings won a penalty four minutes after the restart.
The striker was sent on his way by Liam Henderson’s pass and was brought down by Benedictus as he attempted to turn inside the defender leaving referee George Salmond in no doubt as he pointed to the spot.
Cummings stepped up only to see Cuthbert save his spot-kick but the rebound fell kindly for him and he steered the ball home despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to his second effort.
Their confidence restored, Hibs went looking for a killer second goal, Cummings attempted loft drifting just wide before Henderson’s low cross intended for the unmarked Malonga was cut out by David Bates.
Cuthbert was again called into action as Henderson dummied McGinn’s ball across the face of goal, leaving it for McGeouch who found the goalkeeper had narrowed the angle well.
Fontaine powered a header inches over from McGeouch’s cross before the big defender took another ball from the midfielder off the head of Gray coming in behind him at the far post as Hibs
continued to dominate, Cuthbert rushing from his area to clear with Cummings bearing down.
Hibs: Oxley; Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, Bartley (Keatings 81), Henderson, McGeouch, McGinn, Cummings (Anier 84), Malonga.
Substitutes not used: Reguero, Boyle, Feruz, Forster, McGregor.
Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Callachan, Benedictus, McCord (Wighton 58), Megginson (Anderson 70), Matthews, Daly, Bates, McKeown, Craigen, Robertson.
Substitutes not used: Law, Petrie, Ellis, Ford, Mackie.
Referee: George Salmond.