Hibernian rose to the occasion on Easter Monday to defeat Queen of the South 3-1 and move into the last 16 of the Scottish Cup.
The Easter Road men overcame tricky opposition with a dominant display to progress in the competition and now face Stranraer in the fourth round.
Christian Doidge scored either side of half-time before Martin Boyle made sure of victory at Palmerston Park with a third goal.
Queens youngster James Maxwell netted a fine individual effort to reduce arrears late on, however it was too little, too late as Hibs ran out comfortable winners.
With Ofir Marciano delayed returning from a busy international break, Jack Ross opted to rest the Israeli goalkeeper and his place in the side was taken by Matt Macey.
Youngsters Kevin Dabrowski and Steven Bradley were named amongst a vastly experienced Hibs substitutes’ bench.
The Easter Road side carved out the first meaningful effort of the evening when Doidge’s driven cutback found Joe Newell arriving late into the penalty box. The Englishman’s first-time, well-placed finish was only just diverted wide of goal by the foot of Willie Gibson.
Queen of the South were looking to play direct by getting the ball into the Hibs box as quickly as possible and Macey had to be alert to collect several deliveries into his area.
In the 12th minute the hosts had a huge opportunity to break the deadlock.
Rhys McCabe’s long throw was flicked on by Breen to the unmarked Stephen Dobbie at the back post, only for the veteran to uncharacteristically lash his shot high and wide of goal.
The former Hibernian striker went for power over placement and got it all wrong with the goal at his mercy.
Dobbie was involved again moments later when his flick-on released Connor Shields down the left.
The on-form striker burst into the Hibs box however, he found his run matched brilliantly by Paul Hanlon who did enough to block the effort and allow Macey to gather.
Queens had certainly enjoyed the better of the opening 20 minutes, however, Hibs would grow into the game and go on to dominate.
The contrast on the field was matched by the weather above it as the sunshine was replaced by driving wind and snow as Hibs took control.
Their patient, probing play to find the best opportunity for a defence splitting pass would prove a key theme during the match and Queens were given an early warning when Jackson Irvine’s ball in behind found Boyle who was denied by a fine save from Rohan Ferguson.
Moments later a Boyle cross was only partially cleared by Gibson and Kevin Nisbet’s first time volley from the edge of the box flashed just wide of Ferguson’s near post.
Pressure was growing on the Queens goal with Boyle at his best, driving at the home defence and ensuring it was a torrid evening for young full-back Maxwell.
That pressure paid off in the 41st minute when Boyle’s corner kick was headed by Gibson to Nisbet and although his shot was blocked by Maxwell, it fell perfectly for Doidge and he slotted it away from close range.
Queens were fortunate not to be further behind moments later when Ferguson’s clearance was charged down by Nisbet and the ball ricochet just wide of goal to spare the goalkeeper’s blushes.
As half-time loomed Hibernian were given a warning that the match was far from over after the concession of a cheap free kick on the edge of the penalty area. McCabe took the free kick for Queens, whipping the ball up and over the defensive wall only for it to crash back off the junction of the crossbar and post.
Hibs continued to dominate after the break and the Easter Road side tried to kill the tie off early with Nisbet, Boyle and Josh Doig all having efforts at goal in the opening exchanges.
Doig had another shot at goal soon after following a Newell corner kick, this time his low finish was flicked on by Hanlon and flashed just wide of the post.
Hibs kept the pressure on Queens, winning a series of corner kicks, before Ferguson had to be at his best to acrobatically push away a powerful strike from Irvine.
Doig then fired wide from the edge of the box before Newell’s angled finish beat Ferguson only to flash wide of goal as Hibs kept creating opportunities.
Yet, for all their dominance, Hibs had Macey to thank for keeping them ahead when Dobbie’s ball over the top found Shields running in between Hanlon and Ryan Porteous and only a fine save from the goalkeeper thwarted him.
It would prove to be a crucial save as Hibs doubled their advantage less than one minute later. Newell found time and space before spotting Doidge’s run through the middle and the Welshman finished clinically, lifting the ball over the diving Ferguson for his second of the evening.
Two minutes later it was 3-0. Boyle this time the beneficiary of a delicious defence splitting pass from Nisbet and he, like Doidge before him, finished with aplomb to score his 12th goal of campaign.
Boyle would be replaced moments later and for the first time this evening Queens full-back Maxwell was able to bomb forward. The youngster gave his side a lifeline in the 80th minute when he drove forward, slipped the ball through the legs of Hanlon before coolly slotting beyond Macey to reduce the deficit.
Any hope Queens had of a grandstand finish was quickly snuffed out as Hibs comfortably saw out the remainder of the match.
In fact, Hibs could have added to their goal tally with substitute Kyle Magennis twice denied by Ferguson, Doidge having a header strike the post before Gibson hooked it off the line and Nisbet shooting wide after being put through on goal from a Obileye mistake.
In the end it was a comfortable victory for Hibernian at a difficult venue. The Easter Road men now progress into the fourth round to face Stranraer.
Queen of the South: Ferguson, Maxwell, Buchanan, Obileye, Shields (Awokoya-Mebude 76’), Dobbie (McKee 76’), McCabe, Joseph (Jones 56’), Breen, Dickson, Gibson. Substitutes not used: Leighfield, Fitzpatrick, Goss, McGrory, East, McMahon.
Hibernian: Macey, McGinn, Hanlon, Porteous, Boyle (Cadden 77’), Gogic, Irvine (Magennis 74’), Doig, Newell, Doidge (Wright 85’), Nisbet. Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Gray, McGregor, Stevenson, Hallberg, Bradley.
Referee: Willie Collum.
Report: Richard Payne