Kilmarnock 1-3 Hibs

Tom Soares claimed a glory double as Hibs notched a much-needed win in their battle to avoid relegation as they over-ran Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The on-loan Stoke midfielder opened the scoring after 17 minutes and added another in the 66th, his first goals for the Easter Road outfit as was Roy O’Donovan’s 47th minute strike for Pat Fenlon’s side, the pair ensuring the Capital outfit’s fifth - and biggest - SPL win of the season.

And with St Johnstone beating Dunfermline, Hibs now enjoy a three point advantage over the Pars although, obviously, there is much work to be done before they can begin to declare themselves free of the worry of taking the drop.

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Hibs made three changes from the side which lost that seven goal thriller at Fir Park in midweek, Pa Kujabi, Roy Tom Soares and Roy O’Donovan all starting in the places of Matt Doherty, Garry O’Connor and Ivan Sproule who had to settle for a place on the bench.

Killie were without Scotland Under-21 midfielder Liam Kelly, suspended after being sent off in his side’s 4-0 hammering by Dundee United at Tannadice.

Hibs broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with a goal of simplistic beauty. Leigh Griffiths spotted Soares unchecked run and drifted an inviting ball over the top of the Killie defence for his team-mate to chest down before dispatching a low shot beyond Cammy Bell and into the far corner of the net.

The Rugby Park outfit attempted to hit back, Michael Nelson firing in a long-range shot which took a deflection off the heel of a team-mate to leave Hibs goalkeeper Graham Stack wrong-footed, but thankfully for him the ball zipped wide.

George Francomb clipped the top of Bell’s crossbar with a superbly struck free-kick before Griffiths had two chances in the space of four minutes to double Hibs lead, Soares pass leaving him with only Bell to beat as did Jorge Claros’ ball but on both occasions the Kilmarnock goalkeeper stood tall to beat away the striker’s shots.

Having conceded nine goals in their previous two games, Hibs defence was resolute, skipper James McPake leading the way as he threw himself in front of everything as did a number of others in Hibs change strip of all-black.

The first few minutes of the second half have proved more than a touch problematical for Hibs in recent weeks in terms of goals conceded, but this time round it was the Edinburgh side which struck almost immediately.

O’Donovan and Nelson jumped for Stack’s clearance, both landing with little idea of where the ball had landed but it was the Hibs striker who reacted first, turning to lash a terrific shot over the head of the bemused Bell from 25 yards.

It was just what the small band of Hibs fans, already cheered by the news that relegation rivals Dunfermline were losing at McDiarmid Park, wanted to see although, with 43 minutes remaining they were loath to start celebrating too early.

But they were in the 66th minute as Soares claimed his second goal of the game, the on-loan Stoke star taking Griffiths cross down before hammering another low shot beyond Bell.

A slack bit of play, though, allowed former Hibs star Dean Shiels to pull one back for Killie nine minutes from teh end but no-one could deny the Edinburgh side thoroughly deserved their victory.

Kilmarnock: Bell, Fowler, Nelson, Sissoko, Gordon, Dayton (Kennedy 65), Hay, Johnson (Bujis 58), Harkins (Van Tornhout 65), Shiels, Heffernan. Subs not used: Letheren, Kroca, Racchi, McKeown.

Hibs: Stack, Francomb, McPake, Hanlon, Kujabi, Claros, Soares, Osbourne, Stevenson, O’Donovan, Griffiths (Doyle 76). Subs not used: Brown, Wotherspoon, O’Connor, Sproule, Towell, Doherty.

Referee: Stevie O’Reilly.