Hibernian edged out Hamilton Academical in five-goal thriller under the Easter Road lights.
For 74 minutes Hibernian were outstanding; completely dominating a one-sided match and leading 3-0 thanks to a double from Kevin Nisbet and a header from Paul Hanlon.
However, the visitors made the hosts work for it in the closing stages after a spirited comeback – as a Ross Callachan spot kick and Ryan Porteous own goal reduced the deficit.
Jack Ross made two changes to his starting XI following last weekend’s defeat from Celtic. Lewis Stevenson replaced youngster Josh Doig at left-back and Jamie Murphy took the place of Drey Wright in midfield.
The Easter Road men started impressively, playing with pace and purpose as they took the game to Hamilton and in the opening seconds of the match had a claim for a penalty kick when Martin Boyle went down inside the visitors’ box under the challenge of Hakeem Odoffin.
Three minutes later and a Joe Newell corner kick was volleyed toward goal by Hanlon and only a terrific, instinctive save from debutant goalkeeper Kyle Gourlay prevented Hibs taking an early lead.
The home side were penning Hamilton back and the Accies could barely get out of their box in the opening stages.
Odoffin had to put his body on the line to bravely box a powerful Boyle strike as Hamilton were at times reliant on desperate last-ditch defending to keep their opponents out after a strong start from the hosts.
A goal was coming, and it duly arrived in the 14th minute and again it came from the speed of Hibernian’s attack. A clearance from Ofir Marciano was flicked on by Christian Doidge to Boyle bursting through the middle before being unceremoniously upended by Odoffin on the edge of the box. Nisbet took the set-piece and appeared to catch out Gourlay with a clever finish into the bottom corner of the net.
The goal was little more than Hibs deserved following a pulsating start and it served to whet their appetite for more.
Hibernian were relentlessly attacking their bewildered opponents and on 24 minutes a terrific cross-field pass from Murphy found the run of Paul McGinn, the full-back in turn fed Boyle and his arching low effort had the beating of Gourlay only to flash inches wide of the far post.
A second Hibs goal was only delayed momentarily as Newell’s pin-point delivery was glanced into the Hamilton net off the underside the crossbar by Nisbet for his sixth of the campaign.
With barely half-an-hour played the game could have been put beyond Hamilton when Stevenson threaded a sensational ball through the middle of the visitors defence to release Doidge only for Gourlay to deny the striker with a fine stop.
Hibs midfielder Newell had enjoyed a terrific first half, however he was unable to shake off a knock picked up in the closing stages and he was replaced at the interval by Melker Hallberg.
Hamilton too made a half-time change with Marios Ogkmpoe replacing Andrew Winter. The substitute making an immediate impact as he won his side a penalty kick after collecting a fine reverse pass from Templeton and being taken down by McGinn as he burst in on goal. Ogkmpoe dusted himself down and took the kick himself but was denied by an excellent save from Marciano to preserve Hibs lead.
Hibs were soon back on the offensive and it took another fine save from Gourlay to deny Nisbet a hat-trick as the forward hammered Boyle’s cutback toward goal only for the keeper to divert it behind for a corner kick.
Another last-gasp Odoffin block prevented Doidge from netting just in front of goal before Gourlay made an impressive save to keep out Murphy’s close-range volley as Hibs pressed heavily for a third goal.
It arrived in the 62nd minute when Hallberg’s free-kick into the back post was headed back into the middle of goal by Doidge and Hanlon rose above Gourlay to nod into the net.
Three goals ahead and it should have been game over. Further chances came and went for Boyle and Doidge only for Gourlay to again perform heroics in the Hamilton goal to deny them.
Then, on 74 minutes, Hamilton were awarded their second spot kick of the evening after Porteous’ clumsy challenge on Callum Smith. Marciano again guessed correctly but was powerless to prevent Callachan’s emphatic finish finding the top corner of his net.
From such a dominant position nerves suddenly appeared in the Hibernian side as Hamilton produced a late flurry.
Marciano had to get down quickly to keep out a powerful shot from Tunde Owolabi before Smith’s cross glanced off the head of Porteous to beat the Hibs keeper to further reduce arrears with just seven minutes remaining.
From a position of complete dominance Hibs were nervously holding on and were in the end relieved to hear the final whistle.
Victory takes Hibernian onto an impressive 20 points tally from their opening 10 league fixtures. Next up for Hibernian is a midweek League Cup encounter with Brora Rangers at Easter Road.
Hibernian: Marciano, Hanlon, Porteous, McGinn, Doidge, Boyle, Newell (Hallberg 46), Gogic, Nisbet (Mallan 84), Stevenson, Murphy (Wright 76). Substitutes not used: Barnes, Gray, Gullan, McGregor, Doig, Shanley.
Hamilton: Gourley, O’Doffin, McMann, Hamilton, Collar, Martin (Owolabi 63), Templeton (Smith 72), Want (Munro 14), Winter (Ogkmoe 46), Hodson, Callachan. Substitutes not used: Scully, Stirling, Trafford, Mimnaugh, Moyo.
Referee: Bobby Madden.
Image: Alan Rennie.
Report: Richard Payne.