Brave Hibs Lose Out To Rangers In Playoff Semi Final
Despite dominating throughout and creating chance after chance, Hibs were unable to claw back the two goals required to take the play-off semi final to extra time, and they will spend next season in the Scottish Championship.
Head Coach Alan Stubbs made one change to the starting XI that lost 2-0 in the first leg at Ibrox on Wednesday with Dylan McGeouch replacing Scott Robertson who dropped down to the bench.
Rangers boss Stuart McCall also made one change, bringing back the experienced Lee McCulloch in place of Nicky Clark.
There was an impeccably observed minute’s silence before kick off to remember the Quintinhill Rail disaster.
The Rangers’ fans occupied only a third of the south stand with the remaining seats lying empty ensuring that the home support could make themselves heard and this plan worked with Easter Road bouncing.
Hibs exploded out of the starting blocks and had an early penalty claim denied when the ball clearly struck a Rangers defenders hand, before Liam Fontaine headed just over from a Scott Allan corner.
Fraser Fyvie ,Jason Cummings and Liam Craig all had shots saved then in the 10th minute David Gray sent a dangerous cross into the six yard box but Cummings was unable to turn the ball into the empty net.
Hibs continued to press forward and dominated possession but the Rangers defence held firm.
Hibs almost scored in the 52nd minute when Allan’s cross found Dominique Malongs unmarked on the penalty spot but the striker’s volley flew inches past the post.
Two minutes later Malonga picked up the ball at the corner of the box and cut inside before firing a fierce shot toward the bottom right hand corner but Cammy Bell produced a world class save.
Rangers then started to waste time to the annoyance of the Hibs’ fans and Haris Vuckic was booked for a blatant dive in the penalty box.
Stubbs then threw caution to the wind and Hibs ended the game with four forwards on the pitch after Farid El Alagui and Franck Dja Djedje replaced Liam Craig and Lewis Stevenson.
In the dying minutes, Ian Black was shown a yellow card for time wasting and the referee added five minutes of injury time.
With seconds remaining, Hibs managed to score when after a stramash in the penalty box, the ball fell to Cummings who calmly lobbed the ball into the top corner of the net with Bell helpless.
The Hibs’ players left the field to a standing ovation from their fans, but in the end it is Rangers who will progress to meet Motherwell in the play-off final next week.
Hibs: Oxley, Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, McGeouch, Allan, Craig, Fyvie, Malonga, Cummings. Subs: Cerny, El Alagui, Stanton, Handling, Robertson, Djedje, Dunsmore
Rangers: Bell, Foster, Zaliukas, McGregor, Wallace, Shiels, Law, Vuckic, Murdoch, Miller, McCulloch. Subs: Robinson, Smith, Black, Walsh, Ferguson, Boyd.