Hibs squeezed through to the third round of the Scottish League Cup thanks to Stranraer defender Scott Rumsby’s second-half own goal.
New signing Darren McGregor was handed his debut at right-back after joining his boyhood club yesterday, with captain David Gray ruled out due to a back injury. Dylan McGeough came in for his first start since returning to the club on a permanent basis from Celtic, with Dan Carmichael dropping to the bench after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Rangers.
Hibs were quick out the blocks against their League One visitors, who featured former Hibee Paul Cairney in their five-man midfield, and had their first opportunity in front of goal after just two minutes. Midfielder Fraser Fyvie had his shot palmed away by goalkeeper Conor Brennan after Liam Henderson had played him in on the right side of the area.
Hibs were dominant in both possession and territory and it looked a matter of when they would open the scoring with Stranraer stuck inside their own half.
Celtic loanee Henderson carved out another chance after nine minutes with a good ball out wide to Lewis Stevenson, who drilled in a low shot at the back post which Brennan gathered easily.
Striker Jason Cummings had Hibs’ best chance after 13 minutes, cutting in from the right wing and flashing a left-foot shot just inches wide of Brennan’s left-hand post. Cummings then had another opportunity three minutes later as Hibs broke well on the counter. The ball caught under his feet, although he recovered to get a shot away which Brennan pushed clear.
Stranraer defender Steven Bell then cut out Henderson’s low cross into the box from the right with Cummings lurking three yards out and set to pounce.
The visitors won their first corner after 22 minutes, which Mark Oxley gathered easily in the air. Hibs broke quickly from their own penalty area and Cummings fed Fyvie on the left, who was unlucky to see his strike from 18 yards deflect onto the crossbar and out for a corner via a finger-tip save from Brennan.
Stranraer enjoyed a decent spell towards the end of the opening period and ended the half with the best opportunity for either side. Keeper Oxley had to stretchd to push clear striker Craig Malcolm’s net-bound volley from six yards after winger Mark McGuigan had swung in a perfect cross from the right.
Hibs started the second period with greater urgency as they looked eager to break the deadlock and appease the home supporters who were becoming frustrated with their side.
McGregor crossed from the right on 47 minutes and Liam Fontaine headed just wide of the post, before Stevenson’s cross in behind the Stranraer defence found Cummings, who looked set to lob keeper Brennan but he took a heavy touch and the Stranraer No.1 was able to get a hand on it to turn it wide.
Hibs had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Kevin Clancy after Cummings crashed to the deck under Craig Pettigrew’s challenge.
The long-awaited opener arrived after 53 mintues as Fyvie’s low centre from the left was diverted into his own net by Stranraer defender Scott Rumsby with Cummings waiting to pounce.
A second almost arrived just three minutes later as Hibs looked to turn the screw, John McGinn cutting in from the left onto his right foot but his shot across goal was pushed to safety by Brennan.
Stranraer came closest to an equaliser after 67 minutes when substitute Chris Aitken’s corner was headed just wide by Bell, who outjumped Fontaine at the back post.
Carmichael was presented with the chance to double Hibs’ lead on 72 minutes from Stevenson’s deep cross but he didn’t make any connection from ten yards.
Cummings was brought down 22 yards from goal by defender Scott Robertson with 15 minutes remaining, a great free-kick opportunity for the home side which Henderson saw deflect off the wall and Stranraer were able to clear.
Martin Boyle had the chance to make sure of Hibs’ passsage into round three but he skewed his effort wide of the far post.
James Keatings was given a warm reception from the Hibs support when he came on to make his debut after joining from cCapital rivals Hearts in the summer, replacing Cummings up front with seven minutes to play.
The striker saw little of the ball during his time on the pitch as Hibs saw out the remainder of the tie.
An enterprising run from visiting sub Aitken was the closest Stranraer came to an equalising goal in the closing minutes when he shot well over Oxley’s goal.
Hibs will learn their third-round opponents tomorrow afternoon at Hampden and are unseeded along with city rivals Hearts.
Hibs: Oxley, McGregor, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, McGeouch, McGinn, Fyvie (Carmichael 62), Henderson, Boyle, Cummings (Keatings 83). Unused subs: Reguero, Bartley, Malonga, Stanton, Martin.
Stranraer: Brennan, Robertson, Rumsby, Mair, Pettigrew, McGuigan, Thomson (Aitken 66), Cairney (Longworth 70), Bell, Stirling, Malcolm (McGill 77).
Unused subs: Currie, Keenan, McCloskey, Rowan.
Referee: Kevin Clancy