Hibs 1 Raith 1
Hibs fans could have been forgiven for calling Crimestoppers on Saturday evening after Raith Rovers carried out a well executed robbery at Easter Road.
Rovers were subjected to 90 minutes of almost complete Hibs domination only to nick a point in the last minute through a Christian Nade header.
The French striker had gone about his business virtually unnoticed while his key accomplice in the heist, goalkeeper David McGurn, frustrated the home side with countless saves.
It was smash and grab, but to say that Rovers did not deserve their point would be to ignore the enormous effort the Kirkcaldy side put into defending their goal against a confident team that has lost only once in its last 19 games.
Yes, Rovers had considerable luck on their side - Hibs struck the woodwork twice and only made one of their 25 goal attempts count - but the Fifers were courageous as they fought to stay in the game long enough to steal a point.
Grant Murray made three changes to the side that disappointed in the goalless draw with Alloa the previous week with Martin Scott and Ryan Conroy dropped to the bench, while Calum Elliot missed out through injury.
That meant a recall for Nade, while Kevin Moon also came back into the midfield alongside Ross Callachan, whose form since breaking into the side has seen him go from last choice, to first choice central midfielder.
Rangers loanee Barry McKay also returned after a spell on the bench as Rovers set out with an attacking line-up on paper, but one that was forced into an ultra-defensive shape for most of the match.
You could have counted on one hand that amount of times Raith crossed the halfway line during in the first half as they struggled to get the ball off Hibs, in particular Scott Allan, whose poise in possession, range of passing and movement off the ball was simply a class above the rest.
He pulled the strings as the home side pushed and probed for a way through a well marshalled Rovers defence that was looking for a fourth consecutive away clean sheet.
There were chances galore for the hosts - but a combination of defensive blocks, McGurn saves, wasteful finishing and the post all enabled Raith to reach half-time unscathed.
After constant pressure from kick-off, Hibs best chance for a breakthrough came on the half hour when Moon, who showed rustiness in his first start in six weeks, lost possession cheaply 40 yards from his own goal, leading to Martin Boyle breaking free in the box but McGurn denied the striker’s low effort with his legs.
An even bigger scare for Rovers came six minutes later. There appeared little danger as Jason Cummings collected possession with his back to goal on the edge of the area but the striker’s superb shot on the turn struck the post.
Rovers had just one goal attempt in the first half as a slack pass in the Hibs defence allowed Grant Anderson to steal possession and after a surging run into the box his first shot was blocked, and his second drifted harmlessly wide.
Hibs pushed hard for an opener before half-time but Raith clung on until the whistle - only to put all their first half efforts to waste by conceding within 60 seconds of the restart.
The Raith back four had a great game but on this occasion they were caught cold and out of position allowing Boyle to spring the offside trap, race clear, and slot the ball low past McGurn for a well deserved opener.
Raith responded briefly as Mark Stewart - anonymous in the first half - burst into the game in the 50th minute with a darting run and shot that forced Mark Oxley to tip over at his near post.
But normal service was quickly resumed as Hibs laid siege to the Raith goal in search of a killer second goal.
In the 53rd minute Allan skipped over a weak tackle from Moon to release Cummings into the penalty area, but McGurn, again, used his legs well to save.
There was a remarkable escape five minutes later as McGurn parried a Cummings effort, then somehow deflected Boyle’s rebound onto the underside of the bar, allowing Watson to clear off the line.
Rovers were crying out for a plan B and it arrived with 20 minutes left in the shape of a double substitution that saw Hearts loanee Dale Carrick came on for his debut, along with Ryan Conroy, replacing Stewart and Anderson.
Within two minutes though, McGurn was coming to the rescue again with a stunning save - he must have saw Craig’s effort very late as it thundered through a crowd of bodies - and although Boyle nodded in the rebound, he was flagged offside.
Rovers became more adventurous in the closing stages as Hibs showed some nerves, but it seemed inconceivable that Raith could salvage something from such a one-sided game.
But in the 90th minute, Carrick showed good running power down the right wing to win a corner, which Conroy sent to the back post for Nade to head into the bottom corner leading to wild celebrations in the small corner of stadium housing the Raith fans.
To survive a 90-minute pounding from a very good Hibs side yet emerge with a five-game unbeaten run intact suggests that the mentality of the Raith team is now so much stronger than it was before Christmas. Bring on the Rangers.
Hibs: Oxley, K Watson, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson, S Allan, Robertson (Handling 52), Craig, McGeouch (Martin 88), Boyle, Cummings (Dja Djedje 73).
Subs not used: Cerny, Forster, Stanton, L Allan.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, P Watson, Hill, Anderson (Conroy 71), Moon, Stewart (Carrick 71), Callachan, McKay, McKeown, Nade.
Subs not used: Cuthbert, Fox, Scott, Vaughan, Barr.
Referee: Euan Anderson.