John Sutton scored a dramatic injury-time equaliser to earn Motherwell a 3-3 draw in a thrilling match at Hibernian.
The striker headed in his second goal of the afternoon in the dying stages following a goalmouth scramble.
Paul Heffernan thought he had netted the winner for Hibs in the 79th minute as the home side responded to going two down after just 29 minutes.
Sutton opened the scoring before Lionel Ainsworth notched a brilliant individual effort.
Jordan Forster gave the hosts hope moments before the break with a headed effort and Michael Nelson levelled in the second half with a contentious effort that referee Steven McLean adjudged to have crossed the line (television evidence would prove the officials correct).
Hibs started this thrilling contest brightly but fell behind in the 12th minute a little against the run of play.
James McFadden played in Ainsworth, down the left flank and the forward’s low pass across goal was placed into the net by the unmarked Sutton at the back post.
Hibs had a chance to test Lee Hollis after 20 minutes when the Motherwell goalkeeper could only partially clear a backpass.
Paul Cairney picked up the ball on the edge of the box and found Danny Haynes after Stephen McManus failed to cut out the delivery – but Haynes shot over on the half-volley 15 yards from goal.
Motherwell doubled their advantaged in the 29th minute with a brilliant individual effort from Ainsworth.
The on loan Rotherham forward accepted a pass from Iain Vigurs, effortlessly nutmegged Nelson and darted goalwards before curling a sublime 18-yard effort into the top corner of the net from 18 yards.
It looked at that point as ‘Well would cruise onto a comfortable win, the visitors had looked comfortable but Hibs managed to reduce their arrears two minutes before the break through Forster.
Cairney’s corner eventually came back to him and he lifted a delivery into the six-yard box that was headed in by the defender.
Hibs could have been level just seconds later but Hollis brilliantly turned a James Collins effort from 12 yards around the post.
The hosts started the second half brightly and created two good chances.
Collins curled a first-time effort off the post with the outside off his boot from a Ryan McGivern pass and could only bounce the rebound into the arms of the grounded Hollis.
Haynes then blasted over from an angle inside the area in the 49th minute after being set up inside the box by Cairney.
McFadden created a chance for himself after 72nd minutes, shooting wide from inside the area after driving past Sam Stanton and Paul Hanlon in a forceful run from midfield.
The home side levelled in the 76th minute in controversial circumstances.
Nelson met Cairney’s corner at a congested back post and the defender’s downward header bounced off the underside of the bar. Motherwell thought they had successfully cleared the danger but referee McLean rightly awarded a goal.
Hibs stormed ahead in the 79th minute through Heffernan, just four minutes after he came on.
The former Killie front man began the counter-attack charge with a pass to Stanton inside his own half, Cairney drove at the Motherwell defence after being found by Stanton and teed up the substitute – who lifted a shot over Hollis.
The drama was not over there though, with Sutton earning the visitors a point with his second goal.
Iain Vigurs dribbled into the area and Williams palmed his low shot back out into the danger area. Sutton’s initial shot was blocked by the scrambling Hibs defence, it fell for substitute Craig Moore who lashed his effort off Chris Cadden, which spun the ball into the air where John Sutton bravely put his head to confirm a deserved point.
[tab:As it happened]
Alan Burrows at Easter Road
FT: Hibernian 3 – 3 Motherwell #HFCvMFC
90+2mins: Corner to Hibs……headed clear by Lasley #HFCvMFC
90+1mins: SUTTON pulls it back to 3-3 with a header, after a scramble! #HFCvMFC
3 minutes added on #HFCvMFC
84mins: Hibs sub, Cairney off for Handling #HFCvMFC
79mins: GOAL! Heffernan makes it 3-2 after a break away #HFCvMFC
76mins: GOAL! Hibs equalise through a Nelson header. Hit the bar and crossed the line 2-2 #HFCvMFC
75mins: Hibs sub, Haynes off for Heffernan #HFCvMFC
74mins: Another ‘Well sub, McFadden off for Cadden #HFCvMFC
72mins: McFadden goes on a mazy run but loses his balance as he pulls the trigger and pulls it just over #HFCvMFC
70mins: Motherwell sub, Craig Moore on for Ainsworth #HFCvMFC
69mins: Corner to Hibs…..Hollis comes out and gathers #HFCvMFC
66mins: Hibs sub, Harris on for Stevenson #HFCvMFC
62mins: Corner to ‘Well… Ainsworth’s delivery is punched clear by Williams #HFCvMFC
49mins: Cairney slides the ball through to Haynes but he lacks composure and blazes it well over the bar #HFCvMFC
47mins: Collins hits the post with a clever effort with the outside of his boot. Hollis is alert and gathers the rebound #HFCvMFC
McFadden and Lasley kick it off #HFCvMFC #COYW
Teams are back out for the second half #HFCvMFC
HT: Hibernian 1 – 2 Motherwell #HFCvMFC
45+1 mins: Another Hibs corner. Piling on the pressure here….Forster misses a free header! #HFCvMFC
44mins: Hollis to the rescue with a great stop to deny Collins from 8 yards! #HFCvMFC
42mins: GOAL! Forster pulls one back with a header from 10 yards 1-2 #HFCvMFC
29mins: Oh my goodness, that’s a moment of pure quality from AINSWORTH! Nutmegs Nelson the curls it in beautifully from 18 yards! 2-0
24mins: Decent delivery to the front post for Collins who gets in front of Hutchinson but can only head wide #HFCvMFC
21mins: Ball breaks to Haynes inside the box but on the swivel, he hooks his shot well over #HFCvMFC
Hibs have looked more dangerous in the opening 10 minutes but it’s the ‘Well who have the lead here. #HFCvMFC
12mins: SUTTON makes it 1-0! A great little through ball by McFadden played in Ainsworth who squared it for Sutton who tapped in! #HFCvMFC
6mins: First sight of goal for Ainsworth. Cuts inside from the left wing however his shot is aimed right at Williams #HFCvMFC
5mins: Haynes springs an offside trap but thankfully Reid gets back and gets the block in as he tried to pick out Craig #HFCvMFC
4mins: Forster and Cairney combine down the Hibs right wing and get a cross in. Hollis gathers #HFCvMFC
2mins: McManus leaps well to head clear Hibs’ first corner of the game #HFCvMFC
Cairney and Craig get the game underway #HFCvMFC #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“If you said after 30 minutes we were going to get a point I would have been really disappointed.
“After 85 minutes, if you said we were going to get a point I would have been delighted. I think Hibs started well and got a lot of set plays in the box – but we scored two fantastic goals.
“If we had not lost the goal before half-time we could have gone on to control it better but it gives them a lift and at 2-1, they’ve nothing to lose.”
Hibernian manager Terry Butcher:
“It’s very sore, we’re very disappointed.
“It was a tremendous comeback, great character, that’s been spoilt by an unbelievably soft ball.
“We’ve had umpteen chances to clear the ball and we’re going to work all this week on throw-ins, for and against, and clearances because it was schoolboy defending. I’m bitterly disappointed we can’t defend a throw-in.
“It was a bizarre game and I think that sums up our season, Jekyll and Hyde.”