HIBS crashed to a fourth successive league defeat as Raith Rovers came from behind to beat the Easter Road side for the first time in five attempts this season.
The trip across the Forth had looked promising for the Capital side as Anthony Stokes claimed his third goal in two matches but Raith struck back through Lewis Toshney before Mark Stewart grabbed a deserved winner for the Kirkcaldy club.
Defeats by Morton, Dumbarton and Queen of the South had ended Hibs Championship title hopes but this latest setback will now have fans worrying if Alan Stubbs’ side can even claim second place, with Falkirk now six points clear after Friday night’s win over leaders Rangers.
Hibs made just one change to the side which knocked holders Inverness Caley Thistle out of the Scottish Cup, Martin Boyle replacing the suspended Liam Henderson on the right of the midfield diamond.
Hibs took a few minutes to settle. A couple of long throws from Raith left back Rory McKeown caused them a little anxiety before John McGinn’s through ball found Boyle but Rovers goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert was up to the challenge, diving low to his left to save.
While Raith were favouring the more direct approach, seeking to hit frontmen Stewart and Ryan Hardie as quickly as possible, Hibs initially found it difficult on a fiery surface.
But they got that all important first goal in the 25th minute. Iain Davidson got his head to McGinn’s corner from the right, the ball rising high into the air only to drop invitingly for Stokes who took it first time, firing a low right foot shot into the corner of the net.
Hibs’ lead, however, was to last just 12 minutes. Toshney took advantage of some slack defending on the part of the Capital club to prod the ball low into the corner of Mark Oxley’s net.
Hibs skipper David Gray had seen as lot of the ball wide on the right without being able to supply a telling cross until James Keatings played a delightful pass inside McKeown for the right back who cut it back only to see Stokes’ effort blocked by Jason Thomson.
Raith, though, sensed they could get their noses in front before half-time. Hardie threatened only to find his route to goal blocked and then Stewart fired in a shot which was deflected wide by Darren McGregor.
But they did get that second goal eight minutes after the restart. Oxley managed to shovel Hardie’s shot from a tight angle behind only for Craig Barr to get his head to Louis Longridge’s corner, turning it goalwards for Stewart to supply the finishing touch, nodding it home from a couple of yards out.
Jason Cummings should have equalised five minutes later. He was perfectly placed all alone at the back post but somehow the striker, without a goal since scoring the winner against Hearts a month ago, contrived to hit the underside of the bar from only a couple of yards out.
Substitute Chris Dagnall saw his late header from Lewis Stevenson’s cross come back off the post as Hibs sought a late equaliser.
But that was as close as Hibs got to rescuing anything from a miserable afternoon which now sees them trail second placed Falkirk by six points, albeit they have two games in hand.
Raith Rovers: Cuthbert, Thomson, Barr, Benedictus, McKeown, Longridge (Craigen 80), Toshney, Davidson, Callachan, Hardie, Stewart (Anderson 80).
Substitutes not used: Law, McCord. Panayiotou, Thomas.
Hibs: Oxley, Gray, McGregor, Fontaine, Stevenson, Bartley, Boyle, McGinn, Keatings (Dagnall 73), Cummings (El Alagui 60), Stokes.
Substitutes not used: Virtanen, Handling, Gunnarsson, Thomson, Donaldson.
Referee: John McKendrick.