Riordan fires Hibees to victory

Hibs’ recent barren spell had coincided with a dry run in front of

goal for Riordan, whose 76th-minute free-kick gave his side a vital

victory on Saturday. Substitute Abdessalam Benjelloun earlier

missed a penalty as the hosts just about earned their win in what

was a war of attrition on a boggy Easter Road pitch. Kevin Kyle was

left out of the Killie squad after playing in a trial match for

Russian club Spartak Nalchik in Turkey on Thursday. Manager Jimmy

Calderwood, who revealed yesterday Kyle had flown out for the game

without his knowledge, recalled Mehdi Taouil, Frazer Wright, David

Fernandez and Jamie Hamill, while Hibs drafted in Alan Gow for the

suspended Colin Nish. Kick-off had been brought forward to 2pm

after the demolition of the stadium’s East Stand left it without

sufficient floodlight coverage. The missing terrace further exposed

the poor quality of the playing surface and neither side was able

to enjoy a sustained spell of possession early on. There was

concern for both teams eight minutes in when home defender Sol

Bamba and Killie goalkeeper Cameron Bell collided at a free-kick.

Both stayed down for almost a minute but Bell came off worse and

was carried off on a stretcher four minutes later to be replaced by

debutant Lee Robinson. The opening quarter was truly dire but Chris

Maguire should have given Killie the lead in the 23rd minute when

he spun in behind Bamba and lashed against the side-netting.

Riordan then forced the first save of note when his 25-yard curling

shot was palmed wide by Robinson. Seconds later, Gow hobbled off to

be replaced by Benjelloun and the casualties continued to mount

when Bamba was withdrawn for Paul Hanlon. The first real moment of

quality arrived in the 33rd minute when Benjelloun threaded in

Anthony Stokes, whose low finish was brilliantly saved by Robinson.

Inexplicably, the assistant referee awarded a goal-kick, much to

Stokes’ annoyance. Makeshift centre-back Manuel Pascali then

blocked another Riordan curler before the remainder of the half

limped to a conclusion. The second period began much as the first

ended, though Stokes had a sight on goal in the 50th minute when he

scuffed a shot wide from 18 yards. Benjelloun had looked lively

since coming on and he won a 59th-minute penalty when Pascali

appeared to bundle him over just inside the box. Benjelloun took

the spot-kick himself but it was too close to Robinson, who sprang

left to keep it out. Killie made their second change three minutes

later when the fit-again Allan Russell came on for Fernandez. The

home fans were becoming increasingly frustrated as the half wore

on. Some celebrated when Stokes had the ball in the net in the 71st

minute but the flag was already up and Robinson made no attempt to

save. Killie immediately withdrew Taouil for James Fowler as they

looked like settling for a draw, while Hibs brought on Danny

Galbraith for Lewis Stevenson. Benjelloun mishit a left-foot

20-yarder which Robinson grasped with ease as Hibs’ desperation

grew. But their nerves were settled in emphatic fashion by Riordan

14 minutes from time. James Fowler was booked for bringing down

Galbraith 25 yards out and Riordan stepped up to curl a stunning

free-kick high past the despairing Robinson. Killie might have

equalised in the 85th minute when Wright sent a free header from

Iain Flannigan’s corner straight at Graham Stack. Stokes could have

added gloss to Hibs’ win in stoppage-time after Liam Miller sent

him clear but Robinson thwarted him again, while Maguire volleyed

over under pressure in the closing seconds.