Hibs had youngster Jason Cummings to thank for producing the goods after they sealed a 2-0 victory over Hamilton in the Premiership play-off first leg.
The Easter Road side had entered the match on the back of a dismal sequence of results with the Leith side having recorded only one victory in nineteen outings.
Such was the fall from grace of Terry Butcher’s men most mainstream media pundits were predicting victory for the hosts and a comfortable one at that.
However all the pre match posturing from the home side was to no avail as Hibs comfortably cruised home and now look well placed to finish the job in Sunday’s second leg.
Terry Butcher made a surprise choice in his starting line up with Lewis Stevenson entering the fray with Ryan McGivern replacing Jordan Forster at centre half.
The only other change from the final Premiership match of the season against Killie was 18 year old Cummings starting alongside Paul Heffernan up front.
Hamilton seemed eager to exploit any doubts in the visitors back line but although they started the game well were unable to create many great goal scoring opportunities in the early exchanges.
Hibs grew into the game and were unfortunate not to take the lead when Scott Robertson saw his 20 yard effort cannon off the post.
Despite there being little in the way of goalmouth action the game was played at an entertaining pace and the home side threatened to take the lead when former Hibee Curier played a neat ball behind Alan Maybury but wide man Keatings blazed over.
With six minutes left in the half Hibs took the lead through a magnificent effort from youngster Cummings.
The striker collected the ball just inside the opposing half and was allowed to continue unchallenged before sending a blistering effort over Cuthbert in the Accies goal although the keeper may reflect on his positioning in the after match inquest.
Buoyed by the goal, confidence seemed to filter through the Hibs side and they completely controlled the second period.
It came as no surprise when they added a second ten minutes into the half and Paul Heffernan was the architect.
The Irishman had a fine game and his running into the channels caused Accies no end of problems and it was from one such run he clipped a delightful ball across to the back post from the right which found Cummings who belied his tender years with a deft finish over Cuthbert and despite Canning’s best efforts to clear, the effort was clearly over the line.
Hamilton resorted to launching long balls towards Curier but the Frenchman found himself too isolated and with too much to do on most occasions and he was handled brilliantly by Nelson and McGivern.
Hibs are now halfway to salvaging their top flight status and barring any calamities this Sunday can look forward to a close season of rebuilding for the Premiership.
Ben Williams 7
Organised defence well and looked sharp when called upon.
Alan Maybury 6
Done little wrong. Solid and steady.
Lewis Stevenson 6
Usual workmanlike performance. Beaten a few times in the first half but stuck to his task well.
Michael Nelson 8
Much maligned this season but ‘The Admiral’ was solid as a rock. Won everything, handled Curier brilliantly and barely put a foot wrong.
Ryan McGivern 7
Slotted in alongside Nelson and performed admirably.
Alex Harris 5
Very little seems to be coming off for the youngster at the moment but never hid, much to his credit.
Sam Stanton 6
Flashes of the player he could be but not yet ready to dominate a game from the centre of the park,
Scott Robertson 7
Excellent dogged performance. Covered every blade of grass and unlucky not to score.
Liam Craig 6
Ineffectual on the left but became more involved when switched to a more central role.
Paul Heffernan 8
Literally ran his socks off for the cause. Intelligent runs, clever link up play and provided the cross for the second.
Jason Cummings 9
First senior goals for the striker and no better time to net them. Take away the goals and he still gave everything.
Paul Cairney 3
Little time to get involved.
Owain Tudor Jones
Late sub, never touched the ball.
Wonderful to see former Hibs captain Rob Jones in the stand behind the goals alongside the supporters.
The CIS Cup winning leader was given a tremendous reception from the travelling faithful.
Full credit to him for making the long journey up from down South and he happily posed for pictures with all and sundry after the match.
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