A bitterly disappointing afternoon for Hibernian ended with Dundee United taking all three points and winning their first game at Easter Road in seven years.
Tam Courts’ men were worthy winners in a game that they dominated as we just could not get going in.
Nicky Clark fired the visitors ahead seconds before half-time and Ryan Edwards powerfully doubled their lead shortly after the restart.
Kieran Freemen added a third with 15 minutes remaining and although Kevin Nisbet had an effort touched onto the post by Benjamin Siegrist, we never really looked likely to get back into the contest.
Jack Ross made two changes to the side that lost to Rangers in our last outing with Paul McGinn and Ryan Porteous missing out through injury and suspension respectively.
Their places in the starting XI were taken by Jamie Murphy and debutant, Nathan Wood. The 19-year-old England youth international lined up alongside Paul Hanlon in the heart of our defence while Chris Cadden replaced McGinn on the right of a back four.
We went into the game looking to bounce back immediately following our first domestic defeat of the season, while the visitors sought revenge following their recent Premier Sports League Cup loss to us.
Only a single point separated the teams at kick off and it was easy to see why as they cancelled each other out in the opening quarter of an hour.
During that time neither side were able to fashion a chance of note with the only attacks being a Dundee United corner that was cleared at the front post and a promising Martin Boyle counter attack that ended with the winger’s cross deflecting wide of goal off Nisbet.
On 17 minutes Wood had his pocket picked by Ilmari Niskanen before quickly recovering to prevent the United man going through on goal.
Minutes later, Niskanen did get a shot away with an effort on the angle that Matt Macey had to push around his post at full stretch.
After half an hour had been played Niskanen’s shot remained the only effort on goal, although the visitors had certainly enjoyed the better of the play and had put us under pressure through a series of corner kicks.
They continued to frustrate us at one end while looking the more likely to break the deadlock at the other as Clark shot high over Macey’s crossbar before Ian Harkes' drive from the edge of the box forced a comfortable save from the Hibs stopper.
Dundee United deservedly took the lead seconds before the interval when Clark curled a wonderful low finish beyond Macey and into the far corner of the net.
Ross replaced Scott Allan with James Scott at the break but in the 50th minute a poor clearance from Jamie Murphy was pounced upon by Harkes who immediately put Jeando Fuchs through on goal; the midfielder drew Macey before attempting to cut it back to Clark, only for Cadden to clear.
From the resultant corner kick Edwards peeled away from his marker to power a header in from 10 yards that gave Macey no chance and doubled his team’s advantage.
After a poor first half it was the start to the second period we did not want. The boys attempted to rally and on 55 minutes we had our first real effort on goal when Murphy’s angled drive was deflected over Siegrist’s crossbar.
Seven minutes later a Jake Doyle-Hayes cross from the right was headed wide by Wood with the on-loan Middlesbrough man perhaps unaware of how much time and space he had.
We kept up the pressure and from another Boyle corner, Nisbet sent a glancing header across goal and wide of the far post.
Nevertheless, Dundee United continued to look comfortable with the impressive Fuchs controlling the middle of the park.
With four at the back and another bank of five sitting just in front of them, it was easy to see why Dundee United have not conceded many goals this season.
That defensive solidity allowed them to transition from defence into attack with pace and on 74 minutes they scored again when Freeman swept in from close range at the end of a blistering counter attack.
With 12 minutes remaining we almost pulled a goal back when Nisbet’s shot on the turn was touched onto the post by a wonderful save from Siegrist.
In the closing stages Macey touched a Charlie Mulgrew free kick over his crossbar before Joe Newell’s volleys was kept out by a fine save from Siegrist at the other end.
A disappointing afternoon then with United winning their first match against us in ten attempts and leapfrogging us in the cinch Premiership.
We drop down to fifth in the league table and are away to Aberdeen next weekend where a better performance will certainly be needed.
Hibernian: Macey, Doig, Hanlon, Boyle, Newell, Wood, Nisbet, Murphy, Doyle-Hayes, Allan (Scott 46’), Cadden. Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Wright, Gogic, Stevenson, Gullan, McGregor.
Dundee United: Siegrist, Mulgrew, Niskanen, Pawlett, Clark (Biamou 79’), Edwards, Glass (Hoti 58’), Freemn, Harkes, McMann, Fuchs. Substitutes not used: Newman, Chalmers, Mochrie, Appere, Smith.
Referee: Alan Muir.