May 18, 2013
Wotherspoon strike seals seventh spot
David Wotherspoon's goal clinched seventh place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League for Hibernian and ensured they go into the William Hill Scottish Cup final on the back of three consecutive victories after beating Dundee 1-0.
The substitute guided home a powerful header in the 79th minute to complete a decent day's work for Hibs, who avoided any obvious injuries eight days before their Hampden encounter with Celtic.
Leigh Griffiths, who this week won the Clydesdale Bank and Scottish Football Writers' player of the year awards, started as Pat Fenlon brought back seven players who were rested for the midweek win at Kilmarnock.
Before the goal, the biggest cheer of the afternoon came in the 73rd minute when the 22-year-old left the field having played his final game at Easter Road before he returns to Wolves following almost two years on loan.
The Scotland international came close on several occasions to adding to his season tally of 28 goals, which persuaded Wolves to take up their option of extending his contract by a year.
It was a strong Hibernian side for the final match before their second cup final in successive years. And with James McPake and Tim Clancy fighting to prove their fitness for Hampden, 19-year-old centre-back Jordon Forster produced another confident display to give Fenlon a further option next week.
Both sets of fans took delight in Hearts' perilous financial situation during a low-key start to the game. The Hibs fans joined in as the visiting fans declared they were staying up as the Tynecastle side await potential sanctions following majority shareholder UBIG's apparent financial collapse.
Griffiths had his first good chance in the 25th minute when Dundee lost the ball after Declan Gallagher had taken it out of defence. Jorge Claros quickly found Alex Harris as Hibs had a three against two advantage in the final third.
The teenager picked out Griffiths in space just inside the box but the forward went for power and his shot was straight at Steve Simonsen, who stopped it with two hands before Gary Irvine blocked the striker's follow-up.
Harris continued to look lively and shot straight at Simonsen from 18 yards after a one-two with Lewis Stevenson.
Griffiths was harshly judged to have fouled Kyle Benedictus at a high ball before getting a shooting chance, but Simonsen saved his shot as referee Brian Colvin blew his whistle.
The Wolves loanee had a better chance in the 57th minute when Paul Hanlon's ball sent him clear. He took the ball down with his left foot and shot with his right but the ball flashed just past the post.
Hibs had another great opportunity 60 seconds later when Harris cut through the visitors with his pace as he ran from right to left before teeing up Stevenson, but the midfielder sliced over the bar.
The unexpected flurry of activity soon continued with a chance at the other end. Substitute Ryan Conroy caught Gary Harkins' diagonal ball full on the volley but his shot was inches past the far post.
Former Dundee striker Griffiths went off to a standing ovation from all corners of the ground, the away fans having chanted his name throughout.
The game looked to be drifting to a goalless conclusion but Hibs got the morale boost they were looking for when Wotherspoon ran in from the right to meet Stevenson's driven cross and guide the ball into the far corner from 15 yards.
Despite finishing their season with a late defeat, the bottom club could yet be celebrating a reprieve with the SPL board meeting on Monday to determine whether UBIG's declaration of insolvency breaches league rules and sparks an 18-point deduction, which would send Hearts down.
|David Wotherspoon (79')|
|1 Ben Williams||45 Steve Simonsen|
|18 Alan Maybury||3 Matthew Lockwood|
|4 Paul Hanlon||2 Gary Irvine|
|3 Ryan McGivern||17 Kyle Benedictus|
|37 Jordan Forster||18 Declan Gallagher|
|16 Lewis Stevenson||25 Lewis Toshney|
|8 Jorge Aaron Claros||28 Mark Kerr|
|20 Tom Taiwo||29 Gary Harkins|
|33 Alex Harris||8 Kevin McBride|
|9 Leigh Griffiths||10 John Baird|
|29 Ross Caldwell||20 Jim McAlistair|
|31 Sean Murdoch||Alex Baird 36|
|28 Scott Robertson||Nicholas Riley 7|
|17 Matt Done||Ryan Conroy 11|
|7 Gary Deegan||Cameron Kerr 32|
|14 David Wotherspoon||Colin John Nish 24|
|24 Daniel Handling||Mark Stewart 27|
|10 Eoin Doyle||Carl Finnigan 9|
|Eoin Doyle for Leigh Griffiths (73)||Ryan Conroy for Mark Kerr (57)|
|David Wotherspoon for Alex Harris (75)||Nicholas Riley for Lewis Toshney (63)|
|Scott Robertson for Tom Taiwo (83)||Carl Finnigan for Declan Gallagher (73)|
|Paul Hanlon (72)||Declan Gallagher (35)|
|· Squads: Hibernian | Dundee|