Hibs 2 Raith Rovers 3: Hibees out of Scottish Cup

Michael Nelson (right) beats Dougie Hill in the air to level the match shortly before half time. Pic: SNS
Michael Nelson (right) beats Dougie Hill in the air to level the match shortly before half time. Pic: SNS
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Hibs were sent crashing out of the Scottish Cup, humbled by Championship outfit Raith Rovers - and Terry Butcher’s side could have no complaints.

Three times the Edinburgh club found themselves behind, Sam Stanton and Michael Nelson cancelling out efforts from Kevin Moon and Dougie Hill but they had no answer when Grant Anderson put the Fife outfit ahead yet again 17 minutes into the second half.

And although Hibs staged a grandstand finish in a bid to at least force a replay at Stark’s Park, Raith goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw pulled off a string of impressive saves while Nelson also saw a header smack off the bar.

Butcher gave an immediate debut to on-loan Sunderland winger Duncan Watmore but his two other January signings, Danny Hayes and Daniel Boateng, had to settle for a place on the bench as Paul Hanlon returned to action following his thigh injury.

Raith, without a goal in their last five matches, were missing ex-Hearts striker Calum Elliot, the victim of a hamstring problem but on-loan Hibs star Callum Booth made their starting line-up.

The Fife club, however, took just six minutes to end their goal drought, Joe Cardle skipping away from Nelson on the left touchline before delivering a low cross which found its way to the feet of Moon who swept a low shot beyond Ben Williams from 12 yards.

But Hibs were only behind for eight minutes, Stanton latching onto the ball and drilling in a shot which went in off Ross Laidlaw’s left hand post, the youngster’s first goal for the club.

Watmore found himself the recipient of some rough-house stuff from Raith as his pace, even this early in the game posing an obvious threat, and both Booth and Greig Spence were booked for chopping him down.

It was, though, a rather scrappy affair with Raith far from knocked out of their stride by Stanton’s goal and the Kirkcaldy side came close to taking the lead again in the 35th minute when the persistence of Spence saw Nelson surrender possession - although the big Hibs defender felt he had been fouled - the ball running free for Ross Callachan to crack a shot off Williams’ right hand post with the goalkeeper beaten.

Raith were dealt a blow when Reece Donaldson was stretchered off three minutes before the interval, the defender coming off second best in an aerial collision deep inside the Easter Road side’’s penalty area.

Donaldson’s place was taken by former Hibs player Fraser Mullen and his 44th minute free-kick led to Raith retaking the lead in controversial circumstances, assistant referee Andy Tait’s flag going up instantly as Hill turned the ball into the net only for referee Steven McLean to over-rule him and award the goal.

Raith’s lead was even less short-lived this time round, Nelson rising to send a towering header from Craig’s corner into Laidlaw’s net to haul Hibs level again.

Again, thoough, Raith took that blow in their stride, Moon seeing his shot blocked by Williams at his near post with the Rovers fans behind him rising to acclaim another goal as Hibs looked more than a shade jittery and nervous.

The home fans, too, were becoming agitated, their mood not helped by the sight of Hill striding forward to send a shot wide before Butcher made a double substitution on the hour mark, Abdellah Zoubir and Haynes replacing James Collins and Alex Harris who had both been pretty ineffective.

But the subs were on for barely two minutes before Raith went ahead for a third time, Anderson rising to meet Cardle’s cross to send a superb header into the top corner of the net.

It was no more than the Fife club deserved as they had totally bossed the second half as Hibs struggled to get hold of the ball as they looked thoroughly disjointed and lacking in ideas.

As the clock ticked down the fans began to let their displeasure be known, choruses of boos greeting their team’s increasingly despairing efforts.

But Laidlaw was forced to beat away a Craig free-kick and Nelson sent another header off the woodwork as Hibs sought the goal that would, at least, earn them a replay.

Hibs: Williams, Forster, Nelson, Hanlon, Stevenson, Watmore, Taiwo (Heffernan 71), Craig, Harris (Haynes 60), Stanton, Collins (Zoubir 60)..

Substitutes not used: Grant, Robertson, Boateng, Maybury.

Raith Rovers: Laidlaw, Thomson, Hill (Ellis 73)l, Donaldson (Mullen 42), Booth, Anderson, Callachan, Fox, Moon, Cardle, Spence (Smith 64).

Substitutes not used: Roberts, Vaughan, Matthews, Bates.

Referee: Steven McLean.