Stanton inspires Hibs success
Hibernian youngster Sam Stanton further enhanced his growing reputation as his superb free-kick helped Hibernian to a 2-1 triumph against Ross County, ending their five-game winless run.
The 19-year-old registered his second goal in two outings at Easter Road by curling a delightful effort from just outside the box past the despairing dive of County keeper Mark Brown.
Stanton was at the heart of everything positive in a much-improved display from the Hibees, but it was his midfield partner, Tom Taiwo, who doubled their lead before the interval with his first goal of the season.
County captain Richard Brittain went a long way to proving that anything Stanton could do, he could do better by netting an equally splendid free-kick from distance after the break.
Although it ensured Hibs - attempting to bounce back after their shock William Hill Scottish Cup exit against Raith Rovers last week - endured a nervy finale, Terry Butcher's side held on for their first win since defeating Hearts on January 2.
Indeed, Butcher's men flew from the blocks and within minutes Danny Haynes, making his first start for the club, fizzed a half-volley over the bar from 30 yards and Jordan Forster tested Brown with a close-range header.
The home side claimed a deserved lead after 10 minutes in spectacular style. Having seen his own surging run from midfield halted in agricultural fashion by Rocco Quinn, Stanton dusted himself off and curled home an excellent effort past Brown.
A fine start from the hosts almost counted for nothing, however, as County struck the bar with their first serious foray into opposition territory.
Yoann Arquin managed to beat keeper Ben Williams to a near-post cross and his flick-on remarkably kissed the bar twice before rolling to safety.
Hibs were soon back on top and doubled their lead after 24 minutes through the unlikely source of Taiwo. The former Chelsea youth latched on to a low cross from the superb Haynes inside the box and showed admirable composure to sweep the ball into the bottom-corner from 12 yards for his first goal of the campaign.
The encounter erupted in controversy after the break as a Forster header from Stanton's corner was diverted onto the post by a superb Brown stop, with the ball landing seemingly flush on the goal line.
Danny Haynes subsequently attempted to force the ball over the line, leading to strong Hibs claims for the goal to be given, however the linesman and referee Bobby Madden ignored the pleading of the home side.
And moments later that decision was thrown into even sharper focus as the deficit was halved thanks to another exemplary free-kick.
This time it was the turn of County's Brittain to fire a superb dipping effort into the corner of the net from 25 yards.
Ross County manager Derek Adams threw on the bustling figure of Kevin Luckassen in attack and - with the clock running down - the visitors grasped the initiative.
However, they struggled to create any clear opportunities and Hibs held on to claim their first-ever win against the men from Dingwall at Easter Road - even enjoying the best chance of the closing stages as man-of-the-match Stanton forced a decent near-post save from Brown.