Hibs 3 Aberdeen 1, February 17, 2008
DESPITE being well behind their visitors in the opening period, Hibs roared in the second half to claim all three points and as a result lifted themselves into fifth place, their hopes of a top-six finish having been significantly strengthened.
Hibs were barely able to mount a single proper attack during the opening quarter of an hour, and it was no surprise when Aberdeen went ahead following a corner from the right.
The ball fell at the feet of Colin Nish, who was facing his own goal and appeared unsure of what to do. Rob Jones stepped in, but the two Hibs players only got in each other’s way and sent the ball back out to Zander Diamond, who scored with a first-time shot from around ten yards.
A few minutes later Aberdeen came close to going two up as Sone Aluko beat Thierry Gatheussi and chipped in a cross from the left which Chris Hogg headed on to his own bar. The central defender was relieved to see Abdel Zarabi slide in and clear the rebound.
The visitors stayed on top for the rest of the half, and Alan Maybury and Chris Maguire both came close to adding to their tally. Hibs, on the other hand, were finding it hard to create any openings.
That changed immediately once the second half began, although, while Hibs were definitely sharper and hungrier, they were still a touch fortunate to be given the free kick from which their equaliser arose. When Nish went down a few yards outside the box, no contact had been apparent. Merouane Zemamma stepped up to take the kick, and curled an inch-perfect shot high into the net.
Four minutes on and Hibs were ahead. Steven Fletcher took a ball from the left and flicked it over his shoulder to Dean Shiels. As the Aberdeen defence raised their hands in an appeal for offside, Shiels strode on into the box and shot low. Langfield blocked, but the ball rebounded to Shiels, who lobbed it into the net.
Hibs had the ball in the net again on the hour, but the assistant referee’s flag was clearly raised for offside against Nish.
It was still an indication of how the tide had turned, though, and it was obvious Aberdeen had to make changes. Manager Jimmy Calderwood did so, first with 20 minutes left, when he brought on Stevie Lovell and Josh Walker, and then, more significantly, ten minutes later when he introduced Stuart Duff.
The withdrawal of Lee Mair for the midfielder meant that Aberdeen played with only three at the back, and the extra man further forward almost made the difference.
Severin broke the ball to Duff, whose shot came crashing back off the crossbar. That was as close as Aberdeen came to getting back on terms. In stoppage time Hibs sealed victory when John Rankin sent in an inch-perfect cross from the left for Fletcher to head home.