Scottish Premiership - Play-offs - 1st Leg
HibernianHibernian2FalkirkFalkirk2
By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Easter Road
Lee Miller celebrates
Lee Miller deflected Tom Taiwo's volley into the Hibernian net for the opening goal

Bob McHugh's late equaliser gave Falkirk a 2-2 draw in a thrilling Premiership play-off semi-final first leg.

The visitors took the lead in the first half through Lee Miller, but Hibs came roaring back after the break.

Liam Henderson levelled and Darren McGregor soon headed Hibs in front.

Hibs were then denied a blatant penalty, before their goalkeeper, Conrad Logan, allowed McHugh's 80th-minute shot to squirm past him.

It was the fifth meeting of these sides this season and the fourth draw. They meet again on Friday for the second leg.

The evidence was that it was going to be hard-fought and tight - and so it proved.

Until that opening Falkirk goal, Hibs were on top. Not dominant - their use of the ball was far too loose to build up a proper head of steam - but they had a few moments. Fraser Fyvie fired over, Paul Hanlon had a close-range effort charged down, Fyvie again shot wide.

Against the run of play, Falkirk struck out and scored. They had not threatened in the 34 minutes leading up to the opener. They had worked hard, and impressively, in closing down Hibs and frustrating them, but they had not made anything happen down the other end.

That changed when they won a free-kick 25 yards out. Luke Leahy took it and made a mess of it, driving the ball into the Hibs wall, from where it bounced into the path of Tom Taiwo, the former Hibs player.

Taiwo hit it goal-ward, then it deflected off Miller and ricocheted into the top corner of Logan's net. Hibs protested that Miller was standing in an offside position, but he wasn't. Falkirk had landed the first blow.

Conrad Logan picks the ball out of the Hibs net
Hibs goalkeeper Conrad Logan made a mistake for Falkirk's equaliser

After the break, Hibs were a different team. The penetration that was lacking in the first half was suddenly evident. They had to wait for the precision, though.

They created two wonderful chances in the opening minutes of the second half, John McGinn blasting over from a great position inside the box and Anthony Stokes failing to take advantage of a deft through ball from Jason Cummings.

Stokes was one-on-one with Danny Rogers, but lifted his shot over the crossbar. You wondered at that point what impact these misses would have on Hibs' spirit, but they only grew stronger. Five minutes after Stokes missed, Henderson scored. And it was clinical.

Dylan McGeouch put in a cross from the right, Stokes cushioned a header to Henderson and the midfielder smashed it past Rogers.

Eight minutes after that, Hibs came again. A free-kick from the right from Henderson was thumped home by McGregor, his header unstoppable, his desire obvious.

Hibs can scarcely get through a day without having their bottle questioned by their most bitter rivals in Scotland, but they were thunderous in these minutes, an altogether different lot to the pop-gun team of the first half.

Cummings could have made it three, but mis-kicked in the six-yard box. Then, Hibs were denied a clear penalty. Falkirk were under heavy fire by now and in the midst of the onslaught, David McCracken handled in his own penalty area. Then, unbelievably, McCracken kicked out at Henderson seconds after the handball and escaped that one too. That could also have been a penalty and a read card. The fact that referee Alan Muir gave neither utterly incensed the locals.

Typical of matches between these two, there was a twist. With 10 minutes left, McHugh spun in the Hibs penalty area and fired at Logan, the goalkeeper allowing the shot to go past him - a catastrophe for the Donegal man.

Hibs rallied and could have won it. Stokes tested Rogers, who just about dealt with it. McGregor then came close to scoring his second from another header.

It ended, yet again, in stalemate. Friday at the Falkirk Stadium promises to be tumultuous.

Line-ups

Hibernian

  • 25Logan
  • 2Gray
  • 24McGregorBooked at 69mins
  • 4Hanlon
  • 16Stevenson
  • 10McGeouch
  • 8Fyvie
  • 18McGinnBooked at 76mins
  • 3HendersonSubstituted forBoyleat 89'minutes
  • 35CummingsSubstituted forKeatingsat 73'minutes
  • 28StokesBooked at 90mins

Substitutes

  • 1Oxley
  • 5Fontaine
  • 17Boyle
  • 19Keatings
  • 27Gunnarsson
  • 29Dagnall
  • 30Thomson

Falkirk

  • 1Rogers
  • 4Muirhead
  • 5McCracken
  • 6VaulksBooked at 70mins
  • 3Leahy
  • 8Alston
  • 11Kerr
  • 7TaiwoBooked at 74minsSubstituted forHippolyteat 78'minutes
  • 10Sibbald
  • 9BairdSubstituted forO'Haraat 71'minutes
  • 18MillerSubstituted forMcHughat 59'minutes

Substitutes

  • 19McHugh
  • 22Hippolyte
  • 23Shepherd
  • 28Mehmet
  • 30O'Hara
  • 33Gallacher
  • 44Watson
Referee:
Alan Muir
Attendance:
11,830

Match Stats

Home TeamHibernianAway TeamFalkirk
Possession
Home59%
Away41%
Shots
Home16
Away4
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home6
Away2
Fouls
Home13
Away9

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Hibernian 2, Falkirk 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Hibernian 2, Falkirk 2.

  3. Post update

    Martin Boyle (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk).

  5. Booking

    Anthony Stokes (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Stokes (Hibernian).

  7. Post update

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

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Hibernian. Martin Boyle replaces Liam Henderson.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Anthony Stokes (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

  10. Post update

    Attempt missed. Darren McGregor (Hibernian) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high following a corner.

  11. Post update

    Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Danny Rogers.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Anthony Stokes (Hibernian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk).

  14. Post update

    Fraser Fyvie (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Goal!

    Goal! Hibernian 2, Falkirk 2. Robert McHugh (Falkirk) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by David McCracken.

  16. Post update

    Aaron Muirhead (Falkirk) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Stokes (Hibernian).

  18. Post update

    Foul by Anthony Stokes (Hibernian).

  19. Post update

    Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Falkirk. Myles Hippolyte replaces Tom Taiwo.