EVERY Thornton Hibs’ man played their part in this stirring performance, but it was Coco Mullen who stole the show by netting all five of his side’s goals.
And yet, it could’ve been so different after Ian Shanks was judged to have handled the ball in the box.
A penalty was awarded, but Shanks was allowed to stay on the park with, not surprisingly, both teams having contrasting views on this decision.
Ross Elliot took the spot-kick, however Mark Rowbotham made a terrific save and followed this up with an even better one after Connor Armstrong pounced on the loose ball.
Coco Mullen came close to putting the Hibs ahead with a powerful drive that hit the outside of the upright, but he was just setting his sights because in the 17th minute he was cleverly set-up by Chris Ireland and volleyed home from close range.
This lead lasted just six minutes until Elliot atoned for his earlier error by showing great skills to work an opening before blasting the ball high into the net. Hibs regained the lead in the 33rd minute as Gary Thomson went on a strong run then sent in a shot from the edge of the area. Murray Jackson allowed the ball to squirm from his grasp and Mullen seized upon the opportunity to stab the ball home.
Five minutes into the second-half, the Hibs doubled their lead when Mullen completed his hat-trick following another assist by Ireland.
Mullen had another shot cleared off the goal-line before he hit his fourth on the hour mark. Chris Ireland’s shot was blocked and Mullen reacted quicker than anybody else to shoot home.
Despite the scoreline, it was by no means one-way traffic and Spartans came close to reducing the leeway, but Mark Mahkouli did well to head Sean Wringe’s effort off the line.
Mullen scored his and the Hibs’ fifth with an acrobatic overhead kick and would’ve netted his sixth but for a fine triple save from Murray Jackson.
Keith Boyes headed a late consolation for Spartans, but the day belonged to Hibs– and Coco Mullen in particular!
The reward for this superb performance from Craig Gilbert’s men is a home tie against Haddington Athletic on a date to be advised.
Thornton Hibs: Rowbotham, Mahkouli, Adam, Shanks, McAinsh, McGuire, White, Maxwell, Mullen, Ireland, Thomson. Substitutes - Macdonald, Campbell.