Two penalties from Leigh Griffiths helped send Hibernian into second place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League as they prevailed 4-0 in an eventful trip to Fir Park.
Motherwell striker Michael Higdon missed from the spot in between the second-half double after David Wotherspoon's impressive long-range strike had put the visitors in front.
Danny Handling completed the rout but Motherwell will still feel aggrieved at the performance of referee Stevie O'Reilly, who did not finish the game. O'Reilly and assistant Francis Andrews failed to spot Stevie Hammell's header bouncing clearly over the line before Hibernian goalkeeper Ben Williams scooped it out of his goal.
O'Reilly also awarded three disputed penalties before being replaced by Iain Brines, although he did not appear to be limping. The game was action-packed from the start. Jamie Murphy had an effort saved by Williams after five minutes before Wotherspoon's backheel flick spun just wide.
Griffiths then drove wide from 20 yards and James McPake cleared Humphrey's cross from his goalmouth after Higdon and Keith Lasley both passed up brief glimpses of goal. Hibernian took the lead in the 28th minute as Paul Crainey turned Fraser Kerr and slipped the ball to Wotherspoon, who took a touch and fired into the top corner from 22 yards.
Motherwell thought they had equalised six minutes later when Humphrey knocked the ball past Ryan McGivern and sent over a powerful cross that was met by Hammell at the back post. The left-back headed the ball down and on target only for Williams to claw it out, with television replays confirming the ball had crossed the line.
The end-to-end action continued after the break. Griffiths twice threatened and Humphrey and Nicky Law came close from distance at the other end. Higdon just missed Murphy's driven cross across the six-yard box before Humphrey blazed high and wide.
The action then became a succession of penalties, the first in the 64th minute as Griffiths raced on to Eoin Doyle's ball over the top and was forced out wide by Darren Randolph. The goalkeeper put in a tackle and scooped the ball behind with his hand but was stunned to see O'Reilly award a penalty, which Griffiths converted with a powerful strike.
Motherwell were handed a chance to pull one back in the 72nd minute when McPake climbed over Higdon to head away, but Higdon, the SPL's top scorer, blasted over the bar. And O'Reilly then penalised Hammell for a challenge on Wotherspoon on the edge of the box, Griffiths again proving effective from the spot.
It proved O'Reilly's last major intervention. He appeared to be indulging in a long lecture of Motherwell manager Stuart McCall but it turned out he was finished for the night and was duly replaced by the fourth official before Hibs substitute Handling slid home Wotherspoon's cutback six minutes into injury-time.
- Sports & Recreation
- Michael Higdon
- Leigh Griffiths
- David Wotherspoon
- Clydesdale Bank Premier League