Livingston 0 Hibs 4: Hibees biggest win

Danny Handling (right) challenges Burton O'Brien. Pic: SNS
Danny Handling (right) challenges Burton O'Brien. Pic: SNS
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Hibs pushed themselves into the Championship play-off places as they enjoyed their biggesst win of the season, a convincing win over Livingston.

Dominic Malonga, Danny Handling, Dylan McGeouch, from the penalty spot, and substitute Paul Heffernan saw the Edinburgh side make it five games without defeat, a hint that they are beginning to produce the sort of consistency which will see maintain that position although, of course, they remain 14 points behind leaders Hearts.

With both Jordon Forster and Liam Fontaine out injured, Hibs boss Alan Stubbs was forced into a reshuffle at the back, ditching the 3-5-2 formation he’d favoured in recent weeks as Callum Booth partnered Paul Hanlon in a central defence flanked by David Gray and Lewis Stevenson.

The Capital club should have been ahead in just three minutes, Stevenson playing a defence-splitting pass to leave Malonga with only Jamieson to beat but the striker fired his shot straight at the goalkeeper with the home side claiming for an offside flag which never came.

Jamieson was again in action to beat away a powerful shot from Dylan McGeouch as Hibs continued to take the game to Livingston although Michael McKenna gave the visitors a wake-up call with a rising shot from a tight angle which flew over.

Two smoke bombs set off by Hibs fans left an acrid green smog hanging around stand occupied by those who had travelled from Edinburgh with one young Hibee carried out by a police officer, suffering, apparently, from a panic attack but didn’t require any treatment.

Malonga made up for his early miss by firing Hibs into the lead in the 31st minute, Jamieson dropping the ball as he and Danny Handling contested a Gray cross, the French hitman pouncing to drive a shot high into the roof of the net.

And on the stroke of half-time Scott Allan was unlucky not to make it two for Hibs, the midfielder driving onto the ball before brilliantly making space for himself inside the penalty area with a superb side-step only to see his left foot shot crash back off Jamieson’s right hand post with the goalkeeper beaten.

Having survived that scare John McGlynn’s side almost equalised four minutes into the second half, Kyle Jacobs getting up at the far post to meet Gary Glen’s corner and send in a powerful downward header.

But Mark Oxley got a hand to it, allowing Gray to boot clear, And Hibs made the most of that escape, Jason Cummings laying the ball off for Handling to bury a low shot into the corner of the net.

And Hibs put the game beyond Livingston with 20 minutes to play as ex-Hearts defender Craig Sives halted a dazzling run by Cummings with a trip inside the penalty area. Malonga , who had that spot-kick last week controversially ruled out, cut a forlorn figure as a clutch of his team-mates vied for the ball, McGeouch taking responsibility and hammering the ball past Jamieson.

Malonga didn’t take part in the celebrations and the depth of his unhappiness was even more evident as he was substituted a couple of minutes later, the hitman throwing his jersey down as he planked himself down beside the dug-out rather than joining those within.

The fans, though, were cheering again six minutes from time as Heffernan slid in to met Stevenson’s low cross at the near post to claim his first goal of the season and Hibs fourth on the night.

Livingston: Jamieson, Sives, Talbot, Fordyce, Kyle Jacobs, Keeghan Jacobs (Rutherford 46), O’Brien, McKenna (ogleby 64), White, Glen, Burchill (Hippolyte 64).

Subs not used: Grant, D Robertson, Praprotnik, Mullen.

Hibs: Oxley, Gray, Hanlon, S Robertson, Stevenson, Handling (Stanton 73), S Allan, Booth, McGeouch, Malonga (Harris 73), Cummings (Heffernan 84)

Subs not used: Perntreou, Craig, L Allan, Kennedy.

Referee: Greg Aitken.