Dumbarton 1 - 2 Hibernian: Hibs earn tough win

Hibernian's Paul Hanlon celebrates his goal. Picture: SNS
Hibernian's Paul Hanlon celebrates his goal. Picture: SNS
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HIBERNIAN leapfrogged Rangers to go back into second place, albeit on goal difference and with two more games played, after a turgid and, for the most part, nerve-wracking affair in which the Sons finished with ten men.

Scorers: Dumbarton - Megginson (55); Hibernian - Hanlon (42), Cummings (66)

The victory should have been much more substantial, but for a string of missed opportunities, which might have been more costly against better opposition.

It ended a run of three successive defeats for Alan Stubbs’ side and rekindled hopes of finishing as Championship runners-up to Edinburgh rival Hearts, and sets the stage perfectly for Sunday’s derby.

The Sons came into the match last night unbeaten in their previous three home matches and with a hat-trick of clean sheets. At times, Ian Murray’s side didn’t lack confidence, despite just three wins in their previous 14 outings. But the red card shown to Chris Turner in 58 minutes changed the game dramatically in Hibs’ favour.

Dumbarton had the first chance after seven minutes when a vicious left-foot 20-yard free kick by Scott Agnew took a wicked deflection off Martin Boyle, but goalkeeper Mark Oxley reacted sharply to parry the ball to safety.

Hibs responded well, and in 15 minutes Lewis Stevenson swung over a cross from the left which picked out Farid El Alagui, but the striker, ten yards out, headed just over.

Two minutes later, El Alagui passed up a gilt-edged chance to put the Easter Road side in front when Boyle’s low cross found the French-born Moroccan unmarked six yards out. Somehow he scooped the ball over the bar.

Dumbarton bounced back and forced four successive corners, the last of which saw Turner link with Mark Gilhaney, but his angled shot was blocked at the near post by Oxley.

Hibs were awarded a penalty in 36 minutes when Agnew sent Liam Craig sprawling. El Alagui stepped up, but his spot-kick was turned on to the right-hand post by goalkeeper Danny Rogers at full stretch. The ball rolled along the line, struck the other post and incredibly came out to safety.

Hibs finally took the lead three minutes from the break when Allan whipped over a right-foot corner from the left for Paul Hanlon to nip in front of Turner and send his eight yard header soaring into the net.

Dumbarton might have levelled six minutes after the restart when a slack clearance by Lewis Stevenson fell for Scott Taggart, but Oxley produced a terrific save.

Two minutes later, Taggart fired in another long effort which the goalkeeper again pushed clear and he had to recover quickly to save from Archie Campbell who followed up, racing in from the left.

Hibs were under the cosh, and the Sons deservedly equalised in 55 minutes when Oxley spilled another low 18-yard shot by Taggart and Mitch Megginson followed up to clip home the rebound over the goalkeeper from six yards.

Tensions were high and tempers flared two minutes later when Jordan Forster was yellow-carded for a foul on Chris Turner, who reacted badly with a push in the defender’s face, which ended with him seeing red.

Hibs exploited the extra space and got the winner in 66 minutes when Stevenson began the move down the right, Taggart failed to clear and Allan drilled the ball low across the face of the Dumbarton goal for Jason Cummings to ram the ball home.

Hibs might have put the game beyond doubt in 70 minutes, but Allan’s terrific curling 25-yard shot flew just over and two minutes later Allan laid on the perfect pass for El Alagui, but the striker again failed to finish with the goal gaping.

Three minutes from the end, Sons’ goalkeeper Rogers produced a stunning stop to push round a low 18-yard volley by substitute Fraser Fyvie.

Dumbarton: Rogers, Graham, Turner, Gilhaney (Kirkpatrick 73) Agnew, Megginson (Linton 82), Taggart, Fleming, Findlay, Campbell (Easton 87), Wilson. Subs not used - Grindlay, McCallum, Petrie, Lightbody.

Hibernian: Oxley, Hanlon, Fontaine, Forster, Robertson (Fyvie 46), El Alagui, Craig, Stevenson, Boyle, Allan, Cummings (Malonga 80). Subs not used - Cerny, Stanton, Handling, Dja Djedje, Dunsmore.

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