Scottish Premier League
Hibernian 4-0 Dunfermline

 

 

Tom Soares celebrates with Matt Doherty after the Wolves loanee opens the scoring on a pivotal night in the SPL relegation dogfight


 

By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from Easter Road 


Dunfermline were relegated from the Scottish Premier League after Hibernian's first-half goal rush helped consign the bottom club to a heavy 4-0 defeat.

Hibs, needing only a draw to ensure survival and send the Pars down with only one game left to play in the league, went ahead with Matt Doherty's header early on. Striker Eoin Doyle nodded a quick second and Garry O'Connor's 15th-minute penalty provided further comfort for the hosts. Hibs were awarded a fourth goal late on but Paul Hanlon's shot did not cross the line after it had struck the bar. The result meant that the East End Park side will return to the Scottish First Division after one season in the top flight.

With a five-point gap existing between the sides before kick-off, Dunfermline knew they had to win to take the relegation battle to Saturday's final league fixtures.

But it was Hibs who got off to the perfect start as Tom Soares' deep free-kick was helped on by the head of James McPake and on-loan Wolves full-back Doherty nipped in ahead of his marker Kyle Hutton to beat Pars goalkeeper Chris Smith with the aid of the post after just five minutes to send the Easter Road faithful into raptures and wipe away any nervousness the home side may have had.


? DID YOU KNOW ?

Dunfermline have only won five SPL games this season- with four coming away and only one victory at their home of East End Park.


The lead was increased and the tension drained somewhat as Doherty was the provider for the hosts' second goal six minutes later getting the break of the ball on the right after a couple of defenders went to ground trying to slide in a tackle and chipping across for the unmarked Irishman Doyle to head home with ease from close range for his first SPL goal.

And it got worse for Jim Jefferies' side on the quarter-hour mark when Austin McCann was penalised for grappling with Paul Hanlon inside the area holding his arm as he looked to get on the end of a Soares lofted pass with the Pars left-back cautioned by referee Euan Norris and top scorer Gary O'Connor stroked the spot-kick into the net.

Shell-shocked Dunfermline tried to respond positively and young right-back Jordan McMillan joined the attack found by a smart pass from Gary Mason to force a fine save on 24 minutes from the legs of home keeper Mark Brown- still standing in for the injured number one choice Graham Stack. Former Rangers man McMillan then met Paddy Boyle's back-post cross from the left wing with a powerful header but into the arms of Brown.

Pat Fenlon's men weathered the short storm from the visitors and Lewis Stevenson's shot on the break was gathered by Smith near to half-time. While in stoppage time, Gary O'Connor twisted Mark Kerr this way and that flashing the ball across the face of goal although strike partner Doyle couldn't connect with his outstretched right leg.


? DID YOU KNOW ?

The win means Hibernian have secured a 14th consecutive season in the top-flight although they have only won four of their last sixteen SPL games.


O'Connor twisted and turned before firing wide and Doherty was unable to make a good connection on another Soares free-kick early in the second period. While minutes later at the same end, Isaiah Osbourne laid the ball on a plate for Doyle to tap in with a low cross but the unmarked striker completely missed the ball as it whizzed across the six-yard box at pace.

A free-kick from distance gave Martin Hardie the chance to test Brown and the veteran's shot looked to be heading wide for bending round the wall and rebounding off the post, back off the goalkeeper and out for a corner.

Doyle's glancing header from Soares' corner was cleared off the line by Gary Mason before Hanlon's well-struck volley from Osbourne's delivery hit the crossbar and bounced down in front of the line but the assistant referee Stephen Mitchell not in line flagged to indicate the award of a goal.

And the Scottish Cup finalists- who play Edinburgh rivals Hearts at Hampden Park a week on Saturday- made sure of a clean sheet in Fenlon's first home league win since taking charge when Brown clutched Hardie's dangerous driven ball on the line in the final minutes. Ross County will take the place of Dunfermline next season with the Pars, on 25 points eight behind their nearest counterparts, playing their final match of the campaign infront of their own supporters against Kilmarnock this weekend while Hibs, whose status is now safe for next campaign on 33 points, travel to the Highlands to play Inverness Caley Thistle for their final match.

 

ANALYSIS
Adam Higgins
The Football Site- Chief Football Editor

"It was a terrific effort from Hibernian to pull out a fantastic attacking performance when they needed it most. It is great for Pat Fenlon's hard work in steering the club away from safety has coincided and in many ways rewarded with his first home victory since taking over in November coming in their final fixture of the season at Easter Road. It has been a long journey but they did it in style. They had more of the ball, the better of the chances, more desire and the will to win which is a great mixture of things to have. The players had belief and they produced a display worthy of remaining in the league ideally they would have wanted it all wrapped up in this match and they did it in style. Dunfermline were poor and although they have collected more points away from home this was a four-gone conclusion really. They will be favourites to come back up next season where Jim Jeffries will assess things over the summer and have a go at returning at the first time of asking."

Bank Holiday Monday 7th May 2012

Scottish Premier League

Easter Road

 

Hibernian 4-0 Dunfermline Athletic                            KO 7:45pm              (HT 3-0)

Doherty 5
Doyle 11
O'Connor 15 (pen)
Hanlon 81

 

Hibernian:  31 Brown- 8.5/10, 2 Doherty- 8.5/10, 4 Hanlon- 8.5/10, 15 McPake (C)- 9.5/10, 19 Kujabi- 6.5/10 (Francomb 45- 6.5/10), 8 Claros- 7/10, 13 Soares- 9/10, 16 Stevenson- 7.5/10, 24 Osbourne- 8.5/10, 9 O'Connor- 8/10 (O'Donovan 69- 4/10), 10 Doyle- 8/10 (Sproule 83- 2.5/10).

Subs not used:  41 Grant, 5 O'Hanlon, 6 Murray, 25 Towell

Booked:      None

 

Dunfermline:  20 Smith- 6.5/10, 26 McMillan- 6.5/10, 13 Boyle (C)- 6/10, 15 Dowie- 6/10, 3 McCann- 5.5/10 (Cardle 45- 6/10), 8 Hardie- 6.5/10, 2 Kerr- 6/10, 4 Mason- 6.5/10, 24 Hutton- 6/10 (Buchanan 69- 2.5/10), 10 Kirk- 6/10 (Barrowman 61- 3/10), 11 Graham- 6/10.

Subs not used:  27 Fernandez, 39 Young, 22 Willis, 12 McDougall

Booked:      McCann (14), McMillan (58), Hardie (67)

 

My Man of the Match:    James McPake (Hibernian)- Rating 9.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Austin McCann (Dunfermline Athletic)- Rating 5.5/10 

 

 

Referee: Euan Norris (Scotland)- 9/10
Attendance: 15,281

 

 

Match Facts

Possession: Hibernian- 53%                  Dunfermline- 47%

Shots: Hibernian- 9                    Dunfermline- 12

Shots on target: Hibernian- 5                  Dunfermline- 8

Shots off target: Hibernian- 4                  Dunfermline- 4

Corners: Hibernian- 3                    Dunfermline- 5

Fouls: Hibernian- 6                     Dunfermline- 11

Offside: Hibernian- 4                      Dunfermline- 2

Assists: Hibernian- Doyle, Doherty, Hanlon, Osbourne                 Dunfermline- None

 

 


Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon

"I am delighted with the win. It was important that we stayed in the league. That's what we came in to do and I'm delighted for everybody that we've done that. We started really well. We're delighted to get early goals, obviously it gives everybody a massive confidence boost. I believe it [the fourth goal] wasn't over the line but we haven't had loads of luck all season. Had it been a 1-0 win with that goal then obviously it becomes very controversial but the fact that we've won 4-0 is pleasing. It's not nice when any team is relegated and it's disappointing for them. James (McPake) was tremendous. Since he's come in, he's been different class. He's what we need in the club; he's a great leader and we'd love to keep him but he's a Coventry player and we need to try and sort that out first. He's just an honest centre-half and he defends really well and he's the type you want. He doesn't want to concede goals no matter when it is and he showed that tonight; he got some great blocks in. Eoin Doyle was fantastic. Next season's a big one for Eoin and he showed the supporters that he's going to be a very, very good player. We're second to last in the league and that was more of a round of applause for them than for us. But that's what this club can achieve. To be able to get that every week, we need to make sure that we're winning football matches to continue that. The backing that we had was fantastic."

 

 


Dunfermline manager Jim Jeffries

"I've got a contract for next year. The plan was to come in and try to help them stay in the league. We'll have to lose some players as this will affect the budget. Defensively, the mistakes they've made have been punished and they haven't been tough enough mentally to handle this. Hibs were well assisted with the goals tonight from our point of view. The game was over after the first fifteen minutes. It's a shame because they work hard and play some good football. We played some good football tonight and created some good chances but in this league you've got to take your chances as Hibs did. We hoped that with my arrival it would have seen us beat the drop but it didn't and we have to lick our wounds, go down and prepare to build a side with some of these boys and others to come back up in one go. A lot of these boys would probably do well in the First Division. The fans have been very supportive and made me feel welcome. They were fantastic at Easter Road helping the lads through the game and cheering right to the end. They knew that if it didn't work out then they know I'll work extremely hard to bring this club back up in one go."

 

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