Football: Hibernian retain top flight status

Airdrieonians 2 Hibernian 4
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The Independent Online
Airdrieonians 2 Hibernian 4 Hibernian win on 5-2 on agg

Hibernian balanced on the edge of the precipice before pulling themselves back to the safety of Scottish Premier Division football next season.

In a controversial and tension-filled play-off involving four penalties last night, the Edinburgh club saw their 1-0 lead from the first game cancelled out by Paddy Connolly's header within two minutes of the start .

And Steve Cooper, who scored an own goal in the first game, blasted a penalty kick over the bar midway through the first half before Hibs got their act together with four goals in the second period.

Barely 25 seconds of it had elapsed when Hibs were awarded a penalty, allowing Darren Jackson the chance to put them back in the lead on aggregate.

In the 69th minute Hibs were awarded a second penalty which Jackson again scored with ease.

Airdrie's dream crumbled three minutes later as Paul Tosh added a third on the night for Hibs after being played clear.

The evening got worse for the home side in the 77th minute when Jimmy Sandison was sent off for use of an elbow. Eight players were booked.

The final say went to Hibs, a header by substitute Keith Wright ending a good night's work which could not be spoiled by a late Kenny Black penalty.

Airdrieonians (4-4-2): Rhodes; Jack, Sandison, Sweeney, Stewart; MacKay (McPhee, 56), Black, Davies, Johnston; Cooper, Connolly. Substitutes not used: Smith, Lawrence.

Hibernian (4-4-2): Leighton; Renwick, Hughes, Welsh, McQuilken; Tosh, Dow, Grant, McGinlay (Wright, 79); Power (Lavety, 75), Jackson (Harper, 87).

Referee: W S G Young.

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