Despite taking a first-half lead, Motherwell crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Easter Road this afternoon.
Nick Blackman put the Steelmen ahead, converting a tenth minute penalty to claim his ninth goal of the season.
However, a quick-fire double by Derek Riordan gave the home side all three points, despite a spirited second half showing from the Steelmen.
Craig Brown made two changes from the side that thumped St Johnstone 4-0 on Wednesday night. Steven Saunders and Alan Gow both returned to the side in place of Marc Fitzpatrick and John Sutton, both having to be content with a place amongst the substitutes.
Both teams started with efforts off target, Derek Riordan slicing an effort that caused the corner flag more problems than Darren Randolph. Down the other end, a header from Alan Gow failed to trouble Mark Brown in the home goal at all, as it trickled a few yards wide of goal.
But it was the Steelmen who took the lead and referee Dougie McDonald, fresh from his SFA investigation, was once again at the centre of it. A Chris Humphrey cross from the right wasn’t properly cleared and landed at the feet of Murphy on the left flank.
The 21-year-old burst past Michael Hart only to be pulled down. McDonald showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot and Nick Blackman dispatched the resulting kick high into the top corner for his ninth of the season.
Hibernian, to their credit, hit back straight away. A long hopeful ball towards the edge of the box wasn’t properly dealt with and Riordan swept it low past Randolph for the equaliser.
That goal settled the home side and they almost took the lead a few minutes later but were denied by the quick reactions of Randolph. A lovely ball from the left by Miller was flicked towards goal by de Graaf, but the ‘Well keeper was well placed to make the block. The Dutchman picked up the rebound and teed it up nicely for Riordan but the striker ballooned his effort high over the bar.
However, the former Celtic man wouldn’t be denied as he added his and Hibs’ second shortly after.
The Steelmen were struggling to cope with the frequent direct ball and yet another long ball was flicked on by Trakys allowing Derek Riordan to nip in ahead of Craigan. The striker showed great composure to roll it under Randolph and into the net with the game not even half an hour old.
Incredibly, less than two minutes later, Motherwell should’ve been level. Chris Humphrey was the creator, roasting the full-back and hanging a lovely ball up towards the back post where Alan Gow was lurking. It looked like a simple header for the former Hibs man turned it back across face and the chance was gone.
Motherwell continued to come forward with the home side looking slightly nervy at the back. Chances for Gow, Humphrey and Blackman all came and went though as the hosts held firm.
Hibs replaced de Graaf at half-time, the midfielder having taken a few knocks in the first forty-five but it didn’t upset their rhythm as they started the second half on the front foot; a cross-cum-shot from Miller almost deceived Randolph but the former Charlton man spectacularly turned it away keep it at 2-1.
The big keeper then watched on as Riordan fired a free-kick from the edge of the area over the bar.
Motherwell replied with a well-worked short corner between Hateley and Humphrey, the latter firing across goal only for Mark Brown to make the smart save.
‘Well had the ball in the net on the 70th minute mark when Steven Saunders poked under Brown following a neat Jennings reverse ball. However, the home side were rescued by the assistants’ flag. It looked very tight indeed and television evidence seemed to show the former Queens Park man was level at worst.
The Steelmen spent the next twenty minutes, punctured by in a series of injuries and stoppages, attacking the Hibs goal relentlessly but failing to create too much in the way of clear cut chances. Jamie Murphy’s low shot was all that the ‘Well side could muster but that presented Brown with little problems.
Indeed, for all Motherwell’s possession, it was the home side that came within an inch of extending their lead. Derek Riordan’s excellent turn and shot from the edge of the area brought out an excellent stop from Darren Randolph.
A minute later, Grounds curled a shot just wide as the Steelmen were getting picked off whilst attacking.
But, for all the battling and balls into the box, Motherwell couldn’t grab the equaliser as Hibs hung on for their second win in three days
[tab:As it happened]
90+6 The referee blows his whistle to end the game.
90+5 BOOKING Caution for Mark Reynolds.
90+5 BOOKING The referee cautions Valdas Trakys for unsporting behaviour.
90+5 Valdas Trakys gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mark Reynolds. Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.
90+4 BOOKING Stephen Craigan goes into the referee’s book.
90+4 BOOKING Ian Murray booked.
90+2 SUB Alan Gow leaves the field to be replaced by Robert McHugh.
90+2 SUB Jamie Murphy leaves the field to be replaced by Esteban Casagolda.
90+2 SUB John Sutton joins the action as a substitute, replacing Nick Blackman.
90′ Chris Humphrey concedes a free kick for a foul on Lewis Stevenson. Jonathan Grounds takes the free kick.
88′ Effort from the edge of the box by Jonathan Grounds goes wide of the right-hand upright.
88′ Inswinging corner taken by Derek Riordan from the left by-line played to the near post, Steven Saunders manages to make a clearance.
87′ Nick Blackman challenges Steven Thicot unfairly and gives away a free kick. Derek Riordan has a direct shot on goal from the free kick, save made by Darren Randolph.
85′ Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Save made by Mark Brown.
85′ The official flags Derek Riordan offside. Mark Reynolds takes the free kick.
84′ Alan Gow challenges Michael Hart unfairly and gives away a free kick. Michael Hart delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right wing, Steven Saunders makes a save.
80′ Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Chris Humphrey.
80′ Stevie Hammell crosses the ball, clearance made by Souleymane Bamba.
79′ Lewis Stevenson takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
78′ Tom Hateley sends in a cross, clearance made by Paul Hanlon.
76′ The assistant referee signals for offside against Derek Riordan. Free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
76′ SUB (Hibernian) makes a substitution, with Steven Thicot coming on for Liam Miller.
76′ BOOKING Caution for Chris Humphrey.
76′ BOOKING for Steve Jennings for unsporting behaviour.
73′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Ian Murray on Nick Blackman. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley from left channel, clearance by Souleymane Bamba.
73′ BOOKING Liam Miller shown a yellow card.
72′ The ball is sent over by Stevie Hammell, Paul Hanlon makes a clearance.
72′ Valdas Trakys concedes a free kick for a foul on Steve Jennings. Steve Jennings takes the free kick.
70′ Steve Saunders is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Jonathan Grounds takes the indirect free kick.
69′ Outswinging corner taken by Chris Humphrey from the right by-line.
68′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alan Gow by Ian Murray. Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
67′ Chris Humphrey is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Free kick taken by Mark Brown.
65′ SUB Paul Hanlon replaces Francis Dickoh.
60′ Inswinging corner taken by Chris Humphrey from the right by-line, save made by Mark Brown.
58′ Chris Humphrey sends in a cross, clearance made by Souleymane Bamba.
55′ Jonathan Grounds crosses the ball, clearance by Stevie Hammell. Unfair challenge on John Rankin by Stevie Hammell results in a free kick. Strike comes in from Derek Riordan from the free kick.
55′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ian Murray by Tom Hateley. Mark Brown takes the direct free kick.
54′ The assistant referee signals for offside against Derek Riordan. Indirect free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
53′ Steven Saunders takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.
52′ Foul by Lewis Stevenson on Steven Saunders, free kick awarded. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Tom Hateley from right wing.
50′ Corner taken by Ian Murray from the right by-line, clearance made by Steven Saunders.
48′ Centre by Chris Humphrey, clearance made by Francis Dickoh.
47′ Valdas Trakys takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the bar.
46′ Steve Jennings gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Valdas Trakys. Derek Riordan has an effort direct from the free kick, clearance by Mark Reynolds.
45′ Inswinging corner taken right-footed by John Rankin from the right by-line, save made by Darren Randolph.
45′ SUB (Hibernian) makes a substitution, with Lewis Stevenson coming on for Edwin De Graaf.
45′ The game restarts for the second half.
45+2 HALF TIME The first half comes to an end.
45+1 The ball is delivered by Alan Gow, free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mark Brown by Nick Blackman. Direct free kick taken by Mark Brown.
45′ Steven Saunders concedes a free kick for a foul on Valdas Trakys. Direct free kick taken by Jonathan Grounds.
44′ Foul by Mark Reynolds on Valdas Trakys, free kick awarded. The free kick is delivered left-footed by John Rankin from right wing, save by Darren Randolph.
42′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Souleymane Bamba by Tom Hateley. Jonathan Grounds takes the direct free kick.
41′ Steve Jennings is penalised for a handball. Free kick taken by Derek Riordan.
40′ The ball is delivered by Liam Miller, Mark Reynolds manages to make a clearance.
39′ Liam Miller fouled by Steve Jennings, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Souleymane Bamba.
36′ Chris Humphrey takes a shot. Blocked by Edwin De Graaf.
36′ Jamie Murphy produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that goes over the bar.
34′ The ball is delivered by Jamie Murphy, Mark Brown makes a save.
33′ Outswinging corner taken by Chris Humphrey, clearance by Souleymane Bamba.
32′ Chris Humphrey decides to take a short corner, Edwin De Graaf makes a clearance.
31′ John Rankin challenges Steven Saunders unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Steven Saunders.
31′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley by Ian Murray. Stephen Craigan takes the direct free kick.
29′ Jamie Murphy takes a shot. Clearance by Mark Brown.
26′ GOAL – Derek Riordan: Hibernian 2 – 1 Motherwell A goal is scored by Derek Riordan from inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Hibernian 2-1 Motherwell.
25′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Edwin De Graaf by Stevie Hammell. The free kick is delivered left-footed by John Rankin from right channel, clearance made by Stephen Craigan.
23′ Foul by John Rankin on Stephen Craigan, free kick awarded. Tom Hateley takes the free kick.
22′ Michael Hart produces a cross, Darren Randolph makes a clearance.
20′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steve Jennings by Liam Miller. Steve Jennings takes the free kick.
20′ Unfair challenge on Souleymane Bamba by Alan Gow results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Souleymane Bamba.
19′ Shot from inside the area by Derek Riordan clears the bar.
19′ Jonathan Grounds produces a cross, Edwin De Graaf takes a shot. Darren Randolph makes a save.
18′ The referee blows for offside against Derek Riordan. Stephen Craigan takes the free kick.
17′ Ian Murray gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nick Blackman. Stephen Craigan restarts play with the free kick.
15′ The referee blows for offside. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
14′ The referee blows for offside. Mark Brown takes the indirect free kick.
13′ GOAL – Derek Riordan: Hibernian 1 – 1 Motherwell A goal is scored by Derek Riordan from inside the area to the bottom left corner of the goal. Hibernian 1-1 Motherwell.
10′ Corner from the right by-line taken by Valdas Trakys, Derek Riordan takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
9′ GOAL – Nick Blackman: Hibernian 0 – 1 Motherwell Penalty taken left-footed by Nick Blackman and scored. Hibernian 0-1 Motherwell.
8′ Foul by Michael Hart on Steve Jennings, Penalty awarded.
8′ Chris Humphrey delivers the ball.
2′ Derek Riordan has an effort at goal from the edge of the area that misses to the right of the target.
0′ The referee gets the game underway.
Motherwell manager Craig Brown:
“We conceded two soft goals, the second one in particular. For the rest of the match, I am quite convinced we were the better side and deserved to get three points.
“I thought we were totally dominant in the second half, but we should have managed more goal attempts. That’s where we fault ourselves.
“We didn’t convert our chances and we had a bit of poor luck as well. We got one in the back of the net, but it was disallowed.
“I think Dougie McDonald is an honest referee and his colleagues are too, so you have got to accept the decisions.
“There were things that I thought might have been wrong, but I’m not going to complain.”
Hibernian manager Colin Calderwood:
“In some ways the way it happened was rewarding. To come back from a goal behind and be the team not in the ascendancy, and hang on and show spirit, endeavour and a willingness to work for each other.
“Those are the attributes the fans will be impressed by. Add to that some spells of quite good football in the first half.
“He’s (Riordan) a goal threat as always. He was very unlucky not to get his hat-trick.
“He has produced our one moment in the second half. That would have sealed the game and made it less anxious in the last few minutes.”