SPFL Championship: HIBERNIAN 2 DUNFERMLINE 1: 13/08/16

Callum Fordyce returns in place of the suspended Lee Ashcroft. Ben Richards-Everton (29og) 1-0: Gavin Reilly (57) 1-1: Jason Cummings (78) 2-1:

The Pars were the visitors for Hibs first home league match of the season. Neil Lennon`s side were welcomed by a large home support and they fielded the same starting eleven as lost to Queen of the South in midweek.

Dunfermline showed one change from the side that defeated Dumbarton in the previous Saturday league season curtain raiser. Lee Ashcroft sat out serving a one match ban for his added time red card meaning that club captain Callum Fordyce returned to first team football after injury ended his season in September last year.

Last week the unfurling of the League One championship flag brought home the reality that the Pars were back in the Championship but to be present in the magnificent surroundings of the Easter Road Stadium with the noise from thousands of fans welcoming the teams on to a pristine turf underlined the bigger league was the reality.

Both sets of fans were in good voice with the home side`s supporters roaring at winning a corner within 90 seconds but Ben Richards-Everton got that away when James Keatings sent in an inswinger from the right.

John McGinn tumbled Joe Cardle 20 yards out to earn the visitors a sixth minute free kick but Kallum Higginbotham`s floated ball to the far left post was plucked out of the air all too easily by the Hibs keeper Ross Laidlaw.

Within in a minute the keeper had to get down low to his right hand post after Cardle had created an opportunity for him to get in a low drive from 20 yards. Jason Cummings forced a third Hibs corner in nine minutes and Keatings inswinger travelled right across the goalmouth to go behind beyond the far post.

The Pars were getting opportunities to pepper the Hibs box with Higginbotham flighting a free kick in from the right touchline but beyond Fordyce at the far post. Back to the other end and Cummings won another corner on the right but Geggan was fouled as the delivery came over and Willie Collum blew play up. Richards-Everton next had to head away a dangerous cross from Lewis Stevenson and David Hutton stopped a Cummings drive in 15 minutes.

Five minutes later Higginbotham was penalised for a foul on Stevenson and Hibs had a free kick 30 yards out on the left touchline but David Gray`s header on Stevenson`s deliver was well off target. Then the Comedy Festival came to the football when an unfortunate pass back from Cardle drew Hutton out of his goals but Cummings effort was headed away by Richards-Everton and then Grant Holt spectacularly failed to hit the target driving narrowly outside the left post. Quite a let off!

In 27 minutes Rhys McCabe sent a fine pass out right for Higginbotham but his cross was dealt with by the home defence. Then two minutes later disaster struck. A corner on the right was headed powerfully on target by Darren McGregor. Cardle cleared off the line but Holt sent the ball back at goal and RICHARDS-EVERTON in an attempt to clear headed the ball into his own net. 1-0

The Hibs tails went up and Hutton did really well to touch a 30 yard rocket from John McGinn over his bar. He then blocked an effort down at his right hand post as the home side threatened another. Higginbotham headed away a 39th minute Keatings corner after McGinn`s 30 yarder went screaming behind for the corner.

Five minutes later a Cummings header came back off the left post for Hutton to smother and in 43 minutes another Keatings corner this time from the left travelled all the way across the six yard box.

Half time: Hibernian 1 Dunfermline 0

A couple of Keatings corners put early pressure on the Pars in the second half but it was a 50th minute drive from him that came close to adding a second, his effort escaping narrowly wide left. Martin made a great hooked clearance to deny Hibs and then survived a penalty appeal when the ball was played into his face. Holt sent a good 55th minute chance into the stand before Stevenson was injured as Hutton collected a weak pass back.

Hibs were back at full complement when the Dunfermline fans erupted to greet a 57th minute equaliser. It was a great run from Cardle that let him slip the ball into the box for Gavin REILLY to run on to and pick his spot left of the advancing keeper. 1-1

Cummings appealed for what was not to be a 62nd penalty after he backed into Martin. It became end to end for a spell with McGregor`s timely tackle on Reilly halting a Pars attack and then Cummings firing wide. McCabe sent a 30 yard free kick just outside the far post with Cummings being warned for cutting across in front of McCabe just prior to him striking it.

Back in the Pars box Richards-Everton was the hero as he twice blocked Cummings. Liam Fontaine was yellow carded for a block on Williamson as he set on a customary run up the right but Higginbotham`s free kick into the box was held by Laidlaw. At the other end Hutton held a low drive from McGinn but sub Martin Boyle threatened more but the Pars defence did well.

Reilly and then Williamson got balls in from the right but there were no Pars takers. A McCabe cross for Moffat at the far post earned corner. McGregor header dropped to Cardle but Richards-Everton was penalised for holding his marker down.

Hibs second goal on 78 minutes was a personal disaster for Fordyce who was perfectly placed in front of goal to clear a cross from the right but he completely missed connection and CUMMINGS has a simple job in sticking the ball in the Fifers net. 2-1

In 83 minutes McCabe was presented with a chance from 29 yard fee kick after Willie Collum pulled play back for a foul on sub David Hopkirk. Unfortunately that went over the wall and over the bar.

Time was running out for the Pars but fought to the end. Geggan intercepted a deadly Boyle cut back, Higginbotham sent in yet another free kick but there was to be no late equaliser. The manner of the defeat was disappointing but on what was a day to judge the Pars prospects against one of the main contenders this performance had plenty of positives for the 1235 travelling Pars supporters.

HIBERNIAN: Ross Laidlaw: Darren McGregor, Paul Hanlon, Liam Fontaine (Dylan McGeough 74): David Gray, John McGinn, Marvyn Bartley (Jordan Forster 92), James Keatings, Lewis Stevenson: Grant Holt (Martin Boyle 69), Jason Cummings
SUBS NOT USED: Alex Harris, Scott Martin, Callum Crane, Otso Virtanen (GK)
SCORERS: Richards-Everton (29 og), Cummings (78)
YELLOW CARD: Bartley (36), Fontaine (71)

DUNFERMLINE: David Hutton: Ryan Williamson, Callum Fordyce, Ben Richards-Everton, Lewis Martin: Rhys McCabe, Andy Geggan (c), Kallum Higginbotham, Joe Cardle: Michael Moffat (David Hopkirk 82), Gavin Reilly.
SUBS NOT USED: Michael Paton, Paul McMullan, Scott Lochhead, Lewis Spence, Jason Talbot, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Reilly (57)
YELLOW CARD: Martin (32), Higginbotham (90+1)

REFEREE: Willie Collum
WEATHER: Overcast 18C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship: (away) v Raith Rovers, Saturday 20th August 2016, 3.00pm kick off at Starks Park

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