Hibernian 2-2 Dunfermline: Hibs blow two goal lead as Pars fightback to earn point

Hibs again passed up the chance to open up a nine point lead at the top of the Championship table as they threw away a two goal lead and were forced to settle for a third successive league draw.

ohn McGinn takes on Kallum Higginbotham during the Easter Road clash between Hibernian and Dunfermline Athletic. Picture: SNS/Alan Rennie
ohn McGinn takes on Kallum Higginbotham during the Easter Road clash between Hibernian and Dunfermline Athletic. Picture: SNS/Alan Rennie

The Easter Road side looked as if they were about to capitalise on their title rivals Dundee United, Morton and Falkirk having all had to settle for a point earlier in the day when Martin Boyle and Jason Cummings penalty had them two ahead within 24 minutes.

But Paul McMullan pulled one back for the Pars who equalised through Kalllum Higginbotham only 38 seconds after the interval and it was the Edinburgh club who were left hanging on with goalkeeper Ofir Marciano to thank for a string of saves which ensured they remain seven points clear of the pack.

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Hibs had to wait only five minutes before they opened the scoring, Andrew Shinnie bursting forward and finding Cummings out on the left. The striker had time to look up and deliver a superb cross to the back post where he found Boyle there to meet it first time to leave Pars goalkeeper Sean Murdoch beaten all ends up.

The Easter Road side began to lay siege to the Dunfermline goal, Cummings sending a right foot shot straight at Murdoch before Callum Morris got the merest of touches on Boyle’s cross from the right to take it off the head of Grant Holt.

So it came as no surprise when Neil Lennon’s side doubled their lead in the 24th minute, Boyle using his pace to get round Jason Talbot who pushed him to the ground, referee John Beaton having no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot, leaving Cummings to claim his 18th goal of the season from 12 yards.

But Dunfermline hauled themselves back into the game only two minutes later, skipper David Gray taking a fresh air swipe at a through ball allowing McMullan to slide a low shot beyond Maraciano. And the home side had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping them ahead when, in the 32nd minute McMullan was allowed to stride forward to unleash a rising shot which the Israeli internationalist turned over his bar.

Hibs lost Liam Fontaine to injury in the 34th minute and with fellow central defenders Paul Hanlon and Jordon Forster on the casualty list, midfielder Marvin Bartley came on to partner Darren McGregor at the back.

The Edinburgh club had lost their way a bit after that promising opening with Dunfremline sensing there was a second goal in it for them, the pace and directness of McMullan causing more than a few problems for the home defence.

And they paid for it within a minute of the restart, Higginbotham all alone as Michael Moffat’s ball looped in from the left for his team-mate to fire beyond the helpless Marciano.

Hibs were rocking and they were lucky not to fall behind when Moffat’s shot came crashing back off the bar to fall at the feet of Nicky Clark who saw his point-blank effort saved by Marciano.

The home side were struggling to re-assert themselves but Murdoch had to look lively to tip a McGregor header over from John McGinn’s free-kick. In a bid to get a grip on the match, Lennon pushed Bartley forward to shore things up in the middle of the park with 20-year-old Callum Crane, who’s only previous first team game had been in the Irn-Bru Cup tie against Turriff United, replacing Fraser Fyvie but taking up station alongside McGregor.

But Hibs again had Marciano to thank, the goalkeeper using his feet to keep Clark’s close-range header from Moffat’s cross out as Dunfermline looked the more likely to get a third goal in what was becoming an increasingly ill-tempered game.