Hibernian 2 - 0 Inverness CT: Hibs tap in to secret of booth

A serious candidate for goal of the season by left-back Callum Booth set up the win for Hibs in this match which took the Easter Road club further away from the relegation zone of the Clydesdale Bank Premierleague.

A late second by Lewis Stevenson secured the points which Hibs thoroughly deserved. Both youngsters were scoring their first goals for the club, and Hibs manager Colin Calderwood looks to have plenty of young stars for the future.

The Leith side's recent good form has now taken them to four straight wins - manager of the month for Calderwood? - and the sight of good crowds almost filling all three of the home stands will have gladdened the eye of owner Sir Tom Farmer.

After numerous matches in which Calderwood had experimented with names and formations, Hibs have had a settled look about them recently, and an unchanged home side took the field, albeit with captain Ian Murray suspended. There was only a slight difference in their set-ups, Thistle's orthodox 4-4-2 contrasting with the 4-1-3-2 of Hibs, Victor Palsson again looking assured in the holding midfield role and also performing well when he played further upfield after Hibs switched to 4-4-2 in the second half. The Hibs fans also appreciated the sight of Liam Miller battling away and firing the ball this way and that in a manner which suggested he is coming back to his best form.

Both teams enjoyed a lively start, though it was Hibs who created the better chances, Akpo Sodje being first to have a crack at goal after seven minutes, his swift turn and fizzing shot deserving better than to scoot two yards wide.

Martin Scott should have done better after 11 minutes when he found space but could only shoot straight at Ryan Esson. A minute later, David Wotherspoon had a go and when his effort was stopped, the ever-alert Derek Riordan followed up and shot only narrowly past the post.

Inverness were having their fair share of possession, but the Hibs back four of Richie Towell, Francis Dickoh, Paul Hanlon and Booth were giving nothing away, and the paucity of chances for Inverness throughout the 90 minutes showed where the key to this victory lay.

Calderwood said: "The two Inverness boys up front were a handful, and they got great service, but we showed grit and determination as well as playing good football."

Caley Thistle boss Terry Butcher added: "It was a bad day at the office. I haven't been too hard on the players, I'll just not bother watching the DVD - at least, not while I'm sober. We have two big home games against Dundee United and Motherwell coming up and we'll concentrate on them."

When Inverness did get through, they found Graham Stack in commanding form, even if he was a trifle fortunate in the way he dealt with Thistle's first attempt on goal. Richie Foran's hard work got him clear on the left, and his cross found Adam Rooney whose shot was goalbound until Stack got a leg in the way.

The match went into a bit of a lull until just after the half-hour mark when Derek Riordan's left foot curler was superbly saved by Ryan Esson. From the resultant corner, Palsson headed downward only for Russell Duncan to clear off the line.

The second half also had an energetic start, Rooney being thwarted by a stunning save from Stack, and Sodje sclaffed a real chance wide, before Hibs took the lead just as the hour mark approached.

Former Hibs captain Chris Hogg misdirected a pass over the sidelines and Derek Riordan's throw-in was perfectly placed for Booth to run onto and smash a 30-yard effort high past Esson for a stunning goal.

Calderwood knows he has a gem in Booth: "He has to keep his feet on the ground, but I think he has even more quality than he has shown in the first team so far. It helps that he has come through with the likes of Paul Hanlon."

With Hibs in control, Inverness looked leaden, and only Esson "earned pass marks" as Butcher said, stopping a Riordan shot after 67 minutes. Thistle did mount a rally, however, and credit to them for that.

Stack punched spectacularly clear on one of the late occasions when the visitors threatened, and when the Hibs goalkeeper was beaten, goalscorer Booth was back to clear.

Liam Miller had gone off with a touch of cramp, and with 90 seconds left, his replacement Lewis Stevenson finished off a sweet move involving Palsson and Sodje with a cracking shot that took a slight deflection on the way past Esson. "I actually didn't know what to do when I scored," quipped Stevenson. "It's my first goal in 104 appearances, so maybe that's the floodgates opened."

Certainly the tide has turned for Hibs, and though they now face a run of away games, no one will consider them a pushover any more.