Caley end losing run at Hibs

Inverness halted a five-game losing streak with a 2-1 SPL victory over Hibernian at Easter Road on Saturday afternoon.

Last Updated: 08/11/08 at 17:48 Post Comment

Cowie: Netted for Caley

Cowie: Netted for Caley

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A first-half strike from Don Cowie gave the visitors a shock lead against the run of play on the half-hour mark.

And, when Ian Black doubled the Highlanders' advantage two minutes after the break, it was too much for an under-par home team to overhaul during the remainder of a frustrating afternoon for Mixu Paatelainen's struggling outfit.

Derek Riordan, who had seen his 69th-minute penalty saved, struck in stoppage time but it was nothing more a consolation for Mixu Paatelainen's struggling outfit.

Inverness manager Craig Brewster responded to last weekend's 5-0 hammering from Rangers by making three changes to the team that shipped five goals in the first 45 minutes at Ibrox.

The most significant for the Highlanders was the replacement of Michael Fraser with former Aberdeen keeper Ryan Esson in goal and he proved a hero as he kept Hibs at bay in the second half and saving Riordan's spot-kick.

Hibs came close to an opener in only the first minute as Riordan turned his marker and shot inches wide of Ryan Esson's right post.

With the visitors fielding only Garry Wood up front, Hibs were given licence to push their full-backs and their five attacking players as far up the pitch as they liked at every opportunity.

But the Easter Road men never got the early breakthrough they wanted and Inverness always looked dangerous on the break as the half progressed.

And it was from one of those surges up the park that Inverness took a shock lead in the 30th minute when Rob Jones' punt was returned with interest by Tokely, putting David van Zanten under pressure.

The full-back failed to deal with the high ball and Don Cowie stole past him to thump his shot past Yves Ma-Kalambay.

Hibs were forced into a double change at the interval. Scotland international Steven Fletcher and keeper Ma-Kalambay going off injured to be replaced by Steven Pinau and Andrew McNeil.

Sol Bamba tried to inject some fresh impetus into the home side's play within a minute of the restart with a surging run and shot which brought out a full-length save from Esson.

However, it was Inverness who got the dream start to the second period with a goal barely a minute later.

A lightning break from Douglas Imrie caught Hibs' defence up the pitch and eventually set up Ian Black, whose curling shot caught McNeil cold.

Referee Chris Boyle waved away the home side's desperate appeals for a penalty when Russell Duncan blocked Fabian Yantorno's run and then Esson blocked Jones' header from Riordan's free-kick on the line.

Cowie should have wrapped up the game on another Inverness break but screwed his shot wide from 14 yards out.

With 68 minutes gone, Hibs were handed an opportunity to get themselves back into the match when Richard Hastings was adjudged to have pulled down Colin Nish in the box.

However, Riordan's spot-kick was brilliantly blocked by Esson on the line.

Esson again denied Riordan with 11 minutes remaining as he stooped to hold the striker's curling free-kick.

Nish then had a long-range effort blocked by Esson as Inverness looked to play out time and Hibs sought in vain for inspiration in the closing stages.

Pinau had the ball in the net with a minute left after Jones' header across goal but referee Boyle had already blown his whistle for an apparent foul by Nish.

The home side finally got a consolation strike in injury time as Riordan knocked in from four yards out after Pinau had helped Jones' knockdown across a crowded goalmouth.

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