Hibs leave it late to see of struggling Thistle
Hibernian struck twice in the space of five minutes to remain on the coat-tails of Aberdeen and Rangers in the battle to be crowned best of the rest in the Ladbrokes Premiership as struggling Partick Thistle endured another afternoon to forget in Edinburgh.
Australia international Jamie Maclaren opened the scoring after 71 minutes, finally breaking a stubborn Jags resistance following some fine work out wide by Martin Boyle.
Paul Hanlon bagged his second goal of the season to seal a 2-0 success before Daniel Devine, who had seen an earlier strike ruled out for offside, was dismissed by referee Andrew Dallas in the closing stages.
The win keeps Hibs four points behind the Dons and Gers – they have a game in hand over the Glasgow giants – while Partick stay in a relegation play-off berth following an eighth match without victory.
The Jags, seeking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat at Hearts in their last outing, produced a bright start, with Devine’s curling effort narrowly over the bar representing the first attack of note.
Hibs, missing the driving force of the suspended John McGinn during the early sparring, gradually roused themselves and Efe Ambrose was inches away from latching on to an inviting in-swinging free-kick from Scott Allan with the goal gaping.
Fit-again Dylan McGeouch then forced a magnificent save from Thistle custodian Tomas Cerny, who turned away the midfielder’s curling effort from 20 yards at full-stretch.
It proved a bittersweet intervention by the Czech keeper, however, as he was injured making the stop and had to be replaced by Ryan Scully.
Between the sticks at the other end, Cammy Bell was staking his claim to replace the banned Ofir Marciano permanently, making a fine block to deny Conor Sammon following some good work by Miles Storey.
The contest exploded into life when Baily Cargill met a superb Ryan Edwards corner and powered a header towards goal.
Despite a touch from Bell, the effort appeared on course to cross the line, but Devine made sure by lashing the ball home, prompting assistant referee Douglas Ross to flag for offside.
With several Thistle players still remonstrating with referee Dallas, Hibs broke forward through Boyle.
His dash down the right flank and pin-point delivery was perfect for Maclaren, who converted from close range.
With the wind in their sails, Hibs doubled their advantage when Hanlon rose highest to meet an Allan corner kick, sending a bullet header beyond Scully.
Any hopes of an unlikely Thistle comeback were dashed in the dying moments when Devine was shown a second yellow card for hauling down Florian Kamberi.