Hibs moved two points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship with an emphatic 4-0 win over Morton at Easter Road this afternoon.
Unusually all four goals came from headers with three coming from players scoring their first goals for the club.
Hibs’ Head Coach Neil Lennon made three changes to the starting XI that beat St Mirren last weekend.
Ofir (Rocky) Marciano’s work permit came through in midweek allowing the Israeli international to make his first team debut in place of Ross Laidlaw.
Andrew Shinnie also made his first start after arriving on loan from Birmingham City, replacing James Keatings in midfield whilst Fraser Fyvie returned to the first team, taking over from the injured Dylan McGeouch.
Referee Alan Muir made his first appearance at Easter Road since he failed to award an obvious penalty kick in the home play off semi-final against Falkirk and he started where he left off by awarding two ‘debatable’ decisions to the visitors.
After a slow start, Hibs should have taken the lead in the 14th minute when Fyvie found David Gray on the right touchline. The skipper ‘skipped’ past the full back before finding Jason Cummings unmarked in the box however the normally reliable striker fired the ball over the bar from 15 yards.
Hibs continued to dominate possession and finally took a deserved lead in the 28th minute. A long ball from Marciano was controlled by Shinnie. He slipped the ball to Fyvie whose excellent cross eluded everyone apart from Shinnie who popped up at the back post to nod the ball into the net.
Moments later some excellent interplay between Grant Holt and Shinnie culminated with a through ball to Cummings but his ‘toe poke’ flew inches wide.
Holt then made it 2-0 in the 40th minute when he got on the end of a superb cross from John McGinn and headed the ball into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
In the 47th minute, the fans took part in a minute’s applause in memory of Hibs’ season ticket holder Lesley Ann Ellis who sadly passed away last week.
Moments Hibs added to their lead following great play by Fyvie who won the ball in midfield before finding Shinnie who played a 1-2 with Gray before firing a low cross into the six yard box which cummings headed into the net.
Lennon made two changes with Brian Graham replacing Holt and Keatings taking over from Marvin Bartley who was suffering with a slight back strain.
Morton were then forced to change keepers after Derek Galston picked up a knock. His replacement, Andrew McNeil previously won a CIS League Cup winners medal with Hibs received a standing ovation from the Hibs’ fans but within minutes had to pick the ball out of the net.
McGinn did well to win the ball in midfield before finding cummings on the left touchline. The youngster looked up and sent an inch perfect cross into the area which Graham headed into the corner of the goals.
Martin Boyle replaced Cummings for the last 12 minutes and was impeded whilst running through on goal however the referee incurred the wrath of the home support by waving play on when waving a red card would have been a more appropriate course of action.
Keatings then set up Boyle who dinked the ball over McNeil but the ball rolled inches past the post.
With three minutes remaining, a Gray header from McGinn’s corner rebounded off the bar then McNeil produced a sensational save to deny Boyle from eight yards after the winger had been set up by some fine skill by Shinnie.
Hibs: Marciano, Gray, McGregor, Hanlon, Stevenson, Bartley, Fyvie, McGinn, Shinnie, Holt, Cummings Subs: Laidlaw, Boyle, Keatings, Forster, Graham, Harris, Crane
Morton: Galston, Kilday, Oware, Doyle, Oliver, Forbes, Lindsay, Nesbitt, Tidser, Russell, Quitongo. Subs: McNeil, Oyenuga, Scullion, McAleer, McDonagh, Tennent, Tiffoney.
Referee Alan Muir