Hibs stretch unbeaten SPL run
Leigh Griffiths was on target as Hibernian stretched their unbeaten SPL run to five matches with a 2-1 home victory over Kilmarnock. An inswinging Griffiths corner ricocheted in off Killie goalkeeper Kyle Letheren and defender Rory McKeown as Hibs took a 14th-minute lead on Saturday before Danny Racchi tucked in an equaliser after 32 minutes. Griffiths converted a 45th-minute penalty which proved decisive as Hibs claimed their second win at Easter Road this season, just one behind their tally of home SPL wins in the whole of the last campaign. Hibs appear far removed from the side which flirted with relegation last term and now trail only Motherwell in the standings. Unsurprisingly Hibs were unchanged following their 2-2 draw with Celtic, while Killie's solitary alteration was the introduction of new signing Cillian Sheridan up front. The opening was quiet until on-loan Wolves striker Griffiths, who withdrew from Scotland Under-21 duty through illness earlier this week, fired a left-footed drive which Letheren did well to turn around the post. The Kilmarnock goalkeeper was beaten from the resulting corner, though. Griffiths whipped the ball in and Letheren flapped it on as it bounced in off the head of McKeown, guarding the back post. Griffiths, the SPL's player of the month for August, celebrated as if the goal was his and the stadium announcer named the Hibs striker as scorer even though Letheren's touch appeared crucial. Within a minute, Killie had the chance to equalise when Borja Perez ghosted in one-on-one with Ben Williams, but the Spanish striker was too casual and the Hibs goalkeeper blocked. Williams then saved well down to his right when Michael Nelson headed James Dayton's corner towards goal. Hibs were enjoying the majority of possession, with Killie playing on the counter attack. A clipped Griffiths cross was met by Paul Cairney at the far post, but his hesitation in waiting for the ball to settle allowed Ryan O'Leary to block. Cairney prodded an effort wide before Killie equalised when Williams failed to claim left-back McKeown's cross from deep. The ball dropped for Racchi at the far post to tuck in unopposed. Neither side were able to get on top in the latter stages of the first half, but Hibs were awarded a penalty moments before the break when O'Leary was adjudged to have tripped Cairney. Referee Steven McLean did not hesitate in pointing to the spot and Letheren was booked for remonstrating with Cairney. The Killie goalkeeper was then picking the ball out of the net for a second time as Griffiths' spot-kick went in off the inside of the right-hand post. Letheren and Griffiths resumed their duel early in the second half and the goalkeeper saved well to his left from the Hibs striker. Killie broke and Racchi found Sheridan with a pin-point cross but the striker's free header went narrowly wide. The visitors appealed in vain for a penalty of their own when the ball hit Tim Clancy's arm in the area, but he had been pushed in the back by substitute William Gros. Eoin Doyle shot straight at Letheren before Paul Hanlon blocked a Gros shot at the other end as Killie pushed forward. Griffiths required treatment for a challenge near halfway and was replaced by Ryan Caldwell with 12 minutes remaining as increasingly Hibs were forced to put men behind the ball. Gros headed wide after Manuel Pascali headed McKeown's cross back across goal as Killie missed an opportunity. Doyle had an effort ruled out for offside in stoppage time and Williams made a point-blank save from Nelson as Hibs held firm to triumph.
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