Scottish Championship
Hibernian2Falkirk1

Hibernian 2-1 Falkirk

James Keatings scores for Hibernian
James Keatings arced home a terrific right-foot shot to snatch victory for Hibernian in injury time

James Keatings' stoppage-time stunner sent Hibernian 10 points clear at the Scottish Championship summit, after a dramatic win over second-place Falkirk.

Efe Ambrose's first Hibs goal nudged the hosts ahead after 75 minutes.

But barely 60 seconds later, the Hibees defence were caught napping, and Craig Sibbald nodded in a corner to level.

It looked to be heading for a draw, before substitute Keatings cut in from the left and curled home a magnificent winner on his weaker right foot.

Falkirk were quick to let the Hibernian players know the type of game they were in for as early as the opening minute, when Luke Leahy clattered into Martin Boyle. The Bairns defender was lucky not to pick up a very swift booking.

Winger Boyle and defender Darren Mcgregor both had chances blocked in a frantic opening period, while referee Kevin Clancy was a busy man with Tom Taiwo and Luca Gasparotto both finding their way into his book after rash challenges.

The Bairns duo were joined in the book by the industrious Boyle, who saw yellow after reacting angrily to Gasparotto's scything down of Andrew Shinnie, and Hibs top scorer Jason Cummings, who was adjudged to have dived under the challenge of Peter Grant.

Leahy came close for the visitors with a volley from the angle of the penalty box that whistled inches over Ross Laidlaw's crossbar, before Cummings curled a 25-year free kick just wide at the other end.

As the game raged from end to end in the second half, the league leaders eventually made the breakthrough - and it came from an unlikely source.

Ambrose, deployed at right-back in place of skipper David Gray, found himself with a free header eight yards out and bulleted the ball into the back of the net. It was only the sixth goal of the Nigerian's career, and his first for the Easter Road side.

Efe Ambrose celebrates
Efe Ambrose performed his trademark celebratory acrobatics after scoring his first Hibernian goal

Within a minute, though, Falkirk had silenced the rapturous home crowd. The Hibs defence were caught napping when Sibbald was first to react to a corner played to the near post, and glanced his header into the bottom corner.

The game looked set to end with honours even, but Keatings had other ideas.

The former Hearts striker latched onto partner Brian Graham's knock-down on the left, and on his weaker side, arced the ball beautifully into the top-left corner of Robbie Thomson's goal.

That goal, and the three points it sealed, takes Hibs another step towards the Championship title with seven games remaining.

Hibernian head coach Neil Lennon: "It was a fitting goal. It was a great game. I thought we were very good. I thought Falkirk played as we expected, very strong. But I thought we thoroughly deserved to win it.

"We score a great goal from a set-play we have worked on, and then we have given them a goal out of nothing. The players are fit and they have a bit more about them, and we have quality as well.

"We wanted maximum points from this game and (third-placed) Morton, who we play on Wednesday."

Falkirk manager Peter Houston: "It's cruel to take. Don't take anything away from the goal, it was a quality goal. The only place the ball could go was in the top corner. So I have to give Keatings credit for the goal.

"Robbie Thomson in goal has not had an awful lot to do. It was a cracking match, both sides served up end-to-end football at times.

"We have to get back on the winning trail. We have lost the last two games, unbelievably. I don't think we deserved to lose against Morton last week and I don't think we deserved to lose today either."

Line-ups

Hibernian

  • 31Laidlaw
  • 25Ambrose
  • 24McGregor
  • 23ForsterSubstituted forHanlonat 82'minutes
  • 16Stevenson
  • 10McGeouch
  • 22ShinnieSubstituted forKeatingsat 45'minutes
  • 6Bartley
  • 17BoyleBooked at 39mins
  • 9HoltSubstituted forGrahamat 73'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 35CummingsBooked at 37mins

Substitutes

  • 4Hanlon
  • 8Fyvie
  • 14Handling
  • 19Keatings
  • 29Graham
  • 32Gallacher
  • 48Martin

Falkirk

  • 24Thomson
  • 2KiddBooked at 57minsSubstituted forMuirheadat 81'minutes
  • 14Grant
  • 15GasparottoBooked at 38mins
  • 3LeahyBooked at 80mins
  • 8Kerr
  • 7TaiwoBooked at 15minsSubstituted forHippolyteat 57'minutes
  • 19McHughSubstituted forAustinat 81'minutes
  • 10Sibbald
  • 33Aird
  • 9Baird

Substitutes

  • 1Rogers
  • 4Muirhead
  • 11Hippolyte
  • 16Austin
  • 18Miller
  • 21Shepherd
  • 28Craigen
Referee:
Kevin Clancy
Attendance:
16,140

Match Stats

Home TeamHibernianAway TeamFalkirk
Possession
Home55%
Away45%
Shots
Home6
Away9
Shots on Target
Home3
Away2
Corners
Home9
Away5
Fouls
Home11
Away22

Live Text

Match ends, Hibernian 2, Falkirk 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Hibernian 2, Falkirk 1.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Paul Hanlon.

Booking

Brian Graham (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card.

Goal!

Goal! Hibernian 2, Falkirk 1. James Keatings (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner.

Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Aaron Muirhead.

Attempt saved. Brian Graham (Hibernian) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Foul by Efe Ambrose (Hibernian).

Nathan Austin (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Dylan McGeouch (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Fraser Aird (Falkirk).

Lewis Stevenson (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Craig Sibbald (Falkirk).

Foul by Efe Ambrose (Hibernian).

Nathan Austin (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Lewis Stevenson (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Fraser Aird (Falkirk).

Hand ball by Brian Graham (Hibernian).

Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Aaron Muirhead.

Substitution

Substitution, Hibernian. Paul Hanlon replaces Jordan Forster.

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. Nathan Austin replaces Robert McHugh.

Substitution

Substitution, Falkirk. Aaron Muirhead replaces Lewis Kidd.

Foul by Jordan Forster (Hibernian).

Craig Sibbald (Falkirk) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Booking

Luke Leahy (Falkirk) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Marvin Bartley (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Luke Leahy (Falkirk).

Foul by Brian Graham (Hibernian).

Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Luca Gasparotto.

Goal!

Goal! Hibernian 1, Falkirk 1. Craig Sibbald (Falkirk) header from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Fraser Aird with a cross following a set piece situation.

Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Ross Laidlaw.

Goal!

Goal! Hibernian 1, Falkirk 0. Efe Ambrose (Hibernian) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Keatings following a set piece situation.

Brian Graham (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Peter Grant (Falkirk).

Attempt missed. Robert McHugh (Falkirk) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, Hibernian. Brian Graham replaces Grant Holt.

Marvin Bartley (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk).

Dylan McGeouch (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Hibernian291610346202658
2Falkirk30139849341548
3Morton28139639281148
4Dundee Utd2812883831744
5Queen of Sth3099123742-536
6Dunfermline29811103738-135
7Raith Rovers3089132941-1233
8Dumbarton30710134049-931
9Ayr29710122845-1731
10St Mirren2969143146-1527
View full Scottish Championship table

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