Match ends, Falkirk 1, Hibernian 2.
Falkirk 1-2 Hibernian
Hibernian held their nerve to secure a vital win over Falkirk with a late Kris Commons strike.
The midfielder scored the winning goal from a free-kick with only three minutes remaining.
The visitors had come from behind, Craig Sibbald opening the scoring in the first half.
Jason Cummings equalised one minute later and Hibs' perseverance eventually paid off, with Neil Lennon's side going top of the Scottish Championship.
That was confirmed after overnight leaders Dundee United lost at Dumbarton later on Saturday.
In driving rain and swirling wind, the game was relentlessly frantic. Neither side looked to play with an element of control, instead every bout of possession was treated as an opportunity to sweep forward.
Both defences were resolute enough, so goalscorig chances had to be ground out. Brute strength was effective, and Hibs almost profited when Grant Holt barged down the left, his cross clipped over the bar from inside the penalty area by Commons.
The attacking midfielder would have been further pained by his miss when the home side broke the deadlock minutes later.
Aaron Muirhead delivered the ball from the right and John Baird's effort was pushed away by Hibs goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw. Sibbald was on hand to pounce, and although his first effort was also blocked by the goalkeeper, Sibbald followed up again to score.
Hibs had scant regard for dwelling on their misfortune. One minute later, Commons steered the ball into the box and Cummings swept a first-time effort past keeper Danny Rogers.
The interval made no impact on disrupting the tight nature of the game, with play still swinging from one end to the other in the second half. Commons, too, had cause to regret a lack of match sharpness, as he headed over and then saw another effort saved.
Falkirk also threatened and Miles Hippolyte saw his effort from 20 yards fly wide, while Bob McHugh was sent clean through on goal but stabbed wide.
Commons' involvement was not over, though, and when Hibs were awarded a free-kick 19 yards out, the on-loan Celtic player lashed the ball high into the net.
Falkirk manager Peter Houston: "We've had a look at the goal again, it was a free-kick, but [David] Gray nudges Tom Taiwo out of the road and we should have had Miles Hippolyte in there because it goes underneath the bar. All he can do is smash it and we should recognise that and have six footers in the wall.
"It's come from earlier on, when we thought the [Hibs] goalkeeper was outside his box and the video shows his feet are certainly out the box, they knock it forward and get the free-kick from that. It's disappointing to lose so late on because the best chances in the game fell to Falkirk.
"I don't think there's a lot between us on the evidence of today. When you get chances against teams like Hibernian, you've got to take them. Unfortunately we didn't and we paid the penalty for that.
"We have to move people on to bring anybody in. We won't go into debt again. The budget has been spent and the directors have told me that if we move people on then we can bring people in. We're not like Hibernian and Dundee United who are massive clubs with big support and can speculate a bit more."
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon: "It was a difficult game. I thought we had chances to be in front comfortably. Then Kris came up with the bit of quality that we've been waiting for since he came in the door. You know, he's on the periphery of the game at times, but he sets one up and scores the other.
"You can see [he's lacking match sharpness], he's been out of the game for 10 months. But if you want one man in front of a free-kick, then it's him.
"You've just got to keep going and that will give the boys a huge lift, without playing great football. We played a lot better last Saturday and got a draw. We deserved [the win] over the piece and there aren't many teams who will come here and get three points."
- 14GrantBooked at 87mins
- 21ShepherdSubstituted forMillerat 75'minutes
- 7TaiwoBooked at 72mins
- 8KerrBooked at 80mins
- 9BairdSubstituted forMcHughat 67'minutes
- 24McGregorBooked at 63mins
- 4HanlonBooked at 28mins
- 15CommonsSubstituted forForsterat 90'minutes
- 35CummingsSubstituted forBoyleat 78'minutes
- 9HoltSubstituted forGrahamat 83'minutes
- Crawford Allan
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Falkirk 1, Hibernian 2.
Foul by Tom Taiwo (Falkirk).
Brian Graham (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Hibernian. Jordan Forster replaces Kris Commons.
Goal! Falkirk 1, Hibernian 2. Kris Commons (Hibernian) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the centre of the goal.
Peter Grant (Falkirk) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Peter Grant (Falkirk).
Martin Boyle (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt missed. Robert McHugh (Falkirk) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.
Foul by Lee Miller (Falkirk).
Darren McGregor (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Hibernian. Brian Graham replaces Grant Holt.
Mark Kerr (Falkirk) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Mark Kerr (Falkirk).
Andrew Shinnie (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, Falkirk. Conceded by Paul Hanlon.
Substitution, Hibernian. Martin Boyle replaces Jason Cummings.
Foul by Luca Gasparotto (Falkirk).
Grant Holt (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Falkirk. Lee Miller replaces Scott Shepherd.
Tom Taiwo (Falkirk) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Tom Taiwo (Falkirk).
Dylan McGeouch (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.
Substitution, Falkirk. Robert McHugh replaces John Baird.
Attempt missed. David Gray (Hibernian) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the right.
Attempt blocked. John Baird (Falkirk) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Darren McGregor (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Craig Sibbald (Falkirk) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Darren McGregor (Hibernian).
Foul by Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk).
Grant Holt (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Myles Hippolyte (Falkirk) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Grant Holt (Hibernian).
John Baird (Falkirk) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Paul Hanlon (Hibernian).
Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Scott Shepherd.
Foul by Scott Shepherd (Falkirk).
Lewis Stevenson (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the left wing.