We started with the young pairing of Clarkson and Craig upfront but we were unsettled by the early withdrawal of Scott Leitch with what looked like a twisted knee. Terry Butcher put on Shaun Fagan rather than Keith Lasley as a replacement and what a decision that turned out to be. Fagan hit the winner with a half volley from eighteen yards after Hibs had failed to clear a free kick. His shot was not superbly struck but it was accurate and found its way into the corner through a ruck of players.
Up until the opening goal, Hibs may have been the slightly better team. However there was not much football being played and Hibs’ only opportunity came when Paatalinen headed wide from eight yards. Other than that minor scare, Frankie DuBourdeau had a quiet opening forty-five minutes.
Bobby Williamson would no doubt have been irate with his side at half time and they made a lively start to the second half. O’Neill blasted over from a tight angle while we were fortunate to escape unscathed from a few scrambles in our box.
It was not all one way traffic though and we should have done better when Stevie Hammell had the opportunity to release Stevie Craig. The pass was not quite good enough though and Hibs managed to clear the danger.
Hibs were not to be kept at bay though and pulled one back in the middle of the half. Partridge failed to usher the ball out at the by line and O’Connor lashed the eventual cut back into the roof of the net. It was time to start chewing those finger nails.
We should have wrapped the game up on a number of occasions but Kemas’ effort flew across the face of goal with no takers. Then Kemas over ran the ball when he was clean through and it took a solid save from Colgan to deny Pearson after he charged past the Hibs defence.
The game had been played in a bad tempered spirit and things began to boil over near the end. Townsley threw a wild arm at Clarkson after he was chased into a corner and in attempting to retrieve the ball, Nick Colgan then floored Clarkson with what looked like an astonishing right hook. The linesman saw the incident but inexplicably the referee only chose to book him.
Fortunately we were already in the fifth minute of injury time and we had succeeded in killing the game. The referee blew for full time shortly after the incident in the corner and we can enjoy being off the bottom of the league tonight. Celtic are up next at Fir Park – what price a repeat of our 2-1 victory from September?