Hibs beat Stranraer to reach quarter-finals

Liam Craig celebrates after completing his hat-trick
Liam Craig celebrates after completing his hat-trick
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LIAM Craig completed his first ever hat-trick as Hibs clinched a Scottish League Cup quarter-final slot with a 5-3 win over Stranraer.

The former St Johnstone midfielder kept a clear head to net a fine treble while his team-mates did their best to let the League One upstarts back into the game after they had eased into a 4-1 lead.

Hibs entered the competition a round later than the majority of their Scottish Premiership counterparts on account of their participation in what turned out to be a wretched European campaign.

Thankfully for manager Pat Fenlon, five games without defeat going into the third-round meeting with the Blues eased the pressure on his position and helped fade memories of that infamous 7-0 Europa League drubbing by Malmo.

But Stephen Aitken’s Blues had pulled off the shock of the previous round by knocking out top-flight Ross County and they looked set to repeat the act in Edinburgh as Jamie Longworth’s header gave them a fourth-minute lead.

Hibs did not panic at that point and were level within moments as Craig nodded home his third of the campaign before Abdellah Zoubir’s deflected strike and a Scott Rumsby own goal had them clear at the break.

Craig added a fourth within two minutes of the restart but Fenlon’s side were soon teetering again.

Chris Aitken’s 20-yard curler and a quick-fire third for Stranraer – another OG, this time by Hibs defender Michael Nelson – was enough to have the Edinburgh men fearing yet another mortifying defeat.

But Craig’s third from the penalty spot on 61 minutes calmed fraying nerves and Hibs held out to secure a place in the last eight.