PREPARATIONS for the beginning of the 2011-12 season continued at a rain soaked New Bayview on Saturday as East Fife again came face-to-face with SPL opposition.
Following on from Tuesday’s 3-0 loss at New Bayview at the hands of Hearts, it was the turn of the other Edinburgh side to visit Methil with the arrival of Colin Calderwood’s Hibs.
Again the match against the higher league side proved a stern test, however, John Robertson’s men held their own and posed more than a few problems to Calderwood’s side.
Both teams had to compete against near monsoon conditions as Bayview was drenched and subject to bouts of thunder and lighting.
Bobby Linn struck the Hibs wall with a free kick with Ryan Wallace also looking lively and testing ‘keeper Mark Brown.
Wallace and on-loan Hearts man Robert Ogleby formed a decent partnership up front and combined well to give Ogleby an opportunity to test Brown.
At the other end Michael Brown was also being tested with Garry O’Connor and Edwin de Graaf troubling the Fifers’ goalkeeper.
Robertson’s men took a deserved lead 10 minutes before the break when Craig Johnstone was hacked down in the box by Scott Smith.
Ogleby stepped up and made no mistake from the spot – and then let the Hibs fans know of his delight by celebrating in front of them.
The Hearts forward appeared to make an ‘L’ loser gesture towards the Hibees faithful which was mainly taken in good spirit.
Calderwood’s side was booed off the park at half time as the Fifers dominated until the whistle, but with the promise of fresh legs in the second period, the next 45 was always going to prove a test.
The visitors brought on the impressive Calum Booth, trialist and former Celtic striker Cillian Sheridan and Matthew Thornhill as Calderwood’s men attempted to claw their way back into the game.
It should have been the Fifers who were next to net, though, when Ogleby’s pace saw him outstrip the Hibs backline and reach a through ball.
However, with the whites of ‘keeper Brown’s eyes in his sight, Ogleby’s effort was high, wide and not so handsome.
And the Fifers were made to pay for failing to take their chance when Thornhill’s cross looped its way over the head of sub ‘keeper Mark Ridgers who struggled under a challenge from O’Connor.
The visitors had the luxury of introducing Northern Ireland international Ivan Sproule and he, along with other subs, helped swing the game in Hibs’ favour.
Thornhill added a second when he collected a Scott Taggart cut back and slammed past Ridgers before Sheridan nodded Hibs two goals clear as the clock ticked down.
Following the game, boss Robertson praised his side for again providing SPL opposition with a few headaches.
He said: “We’ve said to the players to look at the quality they’ve been able to bring on in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland internationals in Ivan Sproule and Cillian Sheridan.
“We asked them to compete against Hearts and Hibs for 65 minutes and they’ve done that.
“I was delighted that we were actually leading Hibs after 65 minutes.
“In spells today we played, very, very well and deserved our lead at half time, but in the end, Hibs’ quality shone through.”
East Fife - Brown (Ridgers 45), Durie, Park, White, Ovenstone, Muir (Newbigging 81), Linn (Sloan 19), Blakie 88), Young, Ogelby, Wallace (Martin 88), Johnstone (Campbell 66).
Hibs -Brown (Antell 67), Taggart, Smith (Booth 45), O’Hanlan (Hanlon 67), Murray (Stephens 67), Wotherspoon (Sproule 67), Palsson (Galbraith 67), Stevenson (Thornhill 45) De Graff, O’Connor (Horner 84), Crawford (Sheridan 45).
Sub - Stack.
Referee - Calum Murray.