Hibs slashed the gap on second placed Rangers to just two points with a hard fought victory over Queen of the South in Dumfries.
The Capital club took full advantage of Rangers game at Cowdenbeath being called off with second half goals from Dylan McGeouch, via the penalty spot, and Scott Robertson to nail an important win, their first in three attempts against Queens.
Alan Stubbs players wore black armbands in tribute to former Easter Road chairman Douglas Cromb who died aged 84 earlier in the week.
There was a fourth minute scare for Hibs as Ian McShane’s corner fell for Iain Russell on the edge of the penalty area allowing the former Livingston man to deliver a precise shot which crashed back off goalkeeper Mark Oxley’s right hand post.
Hibs were finding it difficult to get going as Queens commanded the early minutes and McShane went close with an effort which went curling just over the target from Danny Carmichael’s cut-back.
But Hibs almost broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when Scott Robertson’s shot was deflected high in the air, Queens goalkeeper James Atkinson unable to hold the ball under pressure from Liam Craig but was rescued by team-mate Andy Dowie before the Hibs skipper could capitalise on his mistake.
The Dumfries side, however, continued to enjoy the bulk of possession with Hibs unable to get a grip in midfield although they failed to turn that into concerted pressure until Kevin Holt flashed a header wide and then McShane sent a shot straight into the arms of Oxley.
McShane proved to be a big figure at the other end for James Fowler’s side, the midfielder popping up on his own line to head away Liam Fontaine’s netbound header from Scott Allan’s corner.
Then Allan sent a superb ball down the left touchline for Jason Cummings to cut back into the path of Craig only for the midfielder to balloon his shot high over the bar before Martin Boyle fizzed a low effort just wide bang on half-time.
There were loud claims for a penalty from the home side when the ball bounced up to strike the arm of Hibs defender Paul Hanlon but referee Calum Murray was spot-on in waving them away there clearly having been no intent.
Other than that first half scare Queens goalkeeper Atkinson hadn’t been properly tested and he’d have been happy to see Cummings’ effort from a tight angle ripple the sidenetting while a Fontaine header from Allan’s corner bounced nicely into his arms.
Hibs finally got themselves in front Cummings winning the race for Allan’s perfectly weighted through ball with Atkinson, the goalkeeper hauling the striker down to leave ref Murray with no option but to point to the spot.
McGeouch stepped up to drill his shot from 12 yards into the corner of the net despite Atkinson having guessed which way to dive.
And the midfielder almost set up a second four minutes later as he drove from the middle of the park to square the ball for Boyle who held his hand in disbelief as Lewis Kidd managed to get the slightest of touches on his shot, sending it onto the post.
But Hibs did go two up with 15 minutes remaining, Robertson rifling a right foot shot past Atkinson from Cummings lay-off to secure a win at the third time of asking over the Dumfries outfit.
Queen of the South: Atkinson, Holt, Dowie, Higgins, Millar (Burns 77), Reilly, Russell, Kidd, Carmichael, McShane (Pickard 83), Lyle (Paton 71).
Substitutes not used: Clark, Mitchell, Smith, Dickinson.
Hibs: Oxley, Stevenson, Hanlon, Fontaine, Booth, S Allan (Stanton 84), Robertson, Craig, McGeouch, Boyle (Forster 85), Cummings (Handling 90+2)
Substitutes not used: Perntreou, Heffernan, L Allan, Martin.
Referee: Calum Murray.