Unlike many others, Hibs fans will always treasure 2016 and here, right at the very end of the year, they got one more moment to savour.
Kris Commons’ 87th-minute match winning free-kick was one of the most ferociously struck many will have witnessed in a long time and its impressiveness was only matched by its importance as it delivered a victory against an old Championship foe which most thought was simply not going to materialise.
Every single point counts in this tight promotion race and when three are conjured up by a moment of brilliance, the psychological gain can be huge.
Certainly Neil Lennon’s men will go into their crucial head-to-head with Dundee United at Easter Road this coming Friday on a real high after securing this win against a Falkirk side who became their nemesis in the last campaign and over whom a win is never less than hard-earned.
“Our set plays were poor all day, but the one player you would want on the ball in that situation would be Kris – and it was just fantastic,” reflected Lennon on the game’s late pivotal moment. “He’s just got that power and that quality; I don’t think Danny [Rogers] had a chance.
“We know Kris isn’t 100per cent fit, but he’s a difference-maker. It was a beautiful ball in for Jason’s goal earlier. Sometimes you think he’s on the periphery of things, but sometimes we’ve got to find him in better positions, he sees things and he’s got that quality. It’s a big, big win for us today. The players in there are buoyant. It was a hard-fought win but I think we deserved it on chances alone.”
After that, Lennon announced another belated Christmas present for the Hibs fans, confirming that former Motherwell winger Chris Humphrey is expected to join the club until the end of the season, to add to their formidable attacking options.
Ironically given his memorable contribution at the denouement of this match, Commons’ first significant touch in the early stages looked as though it might cost Hibs dear.
Grant Holt sliced through the right side of the Bairns defence and his cutback set up the former Scotland midfielder with a generous portion of the goal to aim at but he somehow scuffed it over the bar.
In the immediate aftermath of this spurned opportunity, the Easter Road side found themselves in arrears – and then almost within the blink of an eye back on level terms. Falkirk took the lead when Aaron Muirhead set up Scott Shepherd, who proceeded to drive a powerful shot against the post. Craig Sibbald pounced on the rebound and, although initially denied by Ross Laidlaw, he followed up again to stroke the ball into the net.
The roars of both sets of fans had only just subsided when Commons managed to atone for his earlier mishap by sliding a precision pass in the direction of Cummings, who beat Danny Rogers with a finish of no less accuracy.
As this quick-fire response suggests, this was never a game whose outcome could be easily predicted. Falkirk had a glorious chance to restore their advantage when the impressive Tony Gallagher sent in a telling cross and a Shepherd lay-off made its way to John Baird, whose effort really ought to have found the back of the net. After the interval, though, it was the visitors who were quickly in the ascendancy as Commons, Holt and Cummings all went close with only some last-ditch defending barring their way.
Having withstood this early onslaught, the hosts gave as good as they got without really carving out the sort of gilt-edged openings they had enjoyed in the opening 45 minutes, with a snap shot by Myles Hippolyte that zipped wide being about as close as they came.
As both sides traded blows it looked like stalemate would prevail until Peter Grant fatefully tugged substitute Martin Boyle to the ground on the edge of his own penalty area. Up stepped Commons and his redemption was complete as his truly jaw-dropping free-kick flew into the net.
“I’m disappointed with the way we defended that free-kick, when only one thing was going to happen – he was going to smash it,” lamented Falkirk manager Peter Houston. “I felt it was cruel – I don’t think we deserved to lose the game.”