Second place will be hard to come by should Hibernian continue to leave it all to chance and be so frugal in front of goal.
Numerous efforts were passed up by a lacklustre Hibs side who played well enough in fleeting spells and only have themselves to blame when looking back.
Raith Rovers can count themselves fortuitous but the Hibees can’t count themselves unlucky. The game was there for the taking, the match was mostly a one-sided affair but the result was so typically Hibs.
The excuses can roll out but Rovers won’t care, they’ve pulled themselves right back in to contention for the final play-off spot after Mark Stewart opened the scoring and Vaughan finished it.
Hibs played with an increased tempo and dominated the ball in the early stages as they looked to bounce back from the defeat at home to Rangers last week.
Scott Allan and Sam Stanton were using their free roles to find space both centrally and out wide. David Gray spent most of his afternoon playing as a right-winger while Robertson was diligently strong in the middle of Fyvie and McGeouch.
Hibs zipped the ball around without any real penetration though and it took a strong run and finish from Gray before they properly tested McGurn in the Rovers goal.
The keeper couldn’t get near the full backs effort which hit the wrong side of the post and thankfully for the hosts they were able to clear the loose ball before any further trouble.
The first half followed much the same pattern for most of the forty-five with Hibs controlling the ball and the tempo.
As the half wore on you could feel the anxiety levels rise in the stand behind Mark Oxley’s goal which was home to over a thousand Hibees.
They are desperate for success, desperate for something good to support but what transpired was a storyline that they’ve seen all too often.
This year is a different frustration from previous but it’s a feeling that the long-suffering supporters have become accustomed to.
I am loath to be too harsh on Stubbs and his team but the facts are we have failed to make any real impact on Hearts’ commanding lead because of several results where we haven’t got our reward.
Unlucky? Well maybe the first couple of times. Not the ninth time around, we take full points in these games and we have an extra twenty-one points. The league would look completely different and we wouldn’t be left to look over our shoulder when thinking about the play-off spots.
So why do we fail to win these games and why are we failing to take our chances when we really need to?
Well twenty attempted shots yesterday and only a quarter of them on target tells its own story. Add to that countless dangerous crosses which were flashed across the six yard box without any meaningful contact or even desire to make contact.
It’s been the same old story all season, game after game, chance after chance.
Are the players being too rigid with their style of play?
They are trying to impose a neat passing game, opening angles with good movement and trying to drag the opposition out of their concentrated set-ups.
That’s all well and good but when it fails to work there doesn’t seem to be a plan b.
The game is constantly played in front of their opponents and only when the full backs advance do they really get in behind and turn defences.
The midfielders should be bursting a gut to go beyond their strikers and flood the box.
Hibs will need to get this right in the next few weeks if they are to make the impact that everyone at the club desires.
They were unlucky to go in level at half-time with Malonga seeing a fine header canon off the upright adding to Gray’s earlier effort coming off the same post.
The second period was only seven minutes in when Stewart notched for the third league game in a row and his fourth goal in that period.
His prolific scoring run being marked with a sublime finish from a teasing Jason Thomson cross. An acrobatic volley finding its way past Hibs’ English custodian, Oxley.
Oxley’s teammates response was immediate and emphatic. Three minutes had elapsed when Allan lined up a shot, his effort from the edge of the box took a nick off a defender and it landed perfectly for Fyvie who took a touch and placed the ball low under McGurn.
The fiery player celebrated with great delight in front of the travelling support and the expectation then was that Hibs would go on and win the match.
They failed to take advantage of any of the delightful crosses from Allan with the ball flying across the six yard box. Gray prodded wide from two yards before failing to make contact at the back post after centre’s from McGeouch and Stevenson.
Erratically Robertson lashed over from twenty yards with the goal at his mercy.
The loudest Hibee cheer of the day was reserved for the returning Farid El Alagui who replaced Dominique Malonga with quarter of an hour remaining.
El Alagui will need to find his sharpness in front of goal quickly to aid his sides conversion rate as they continue to battle on two fronts.
The hosts stole the points as the clocked ticked past 84 minutes Vaughan following up quicker after Oxley had saved from sub Christian Nade.
Nade had only been on the field a few minutes before he found himself on the goal line, Keith Watson allowed him to cut back in far too easily, creating an angle and firing low towards goal.
Oxley got down smartly but will likely feel he could have pushed it away to the side. It fell kindly for Vaughan who had the awareness to tuck the ball away despite the presence of Liam Fontaine and his goalkeeper.
Vaughan and his teammates celebrated his winner as Alan Muir’s full-time whistle reverberated round Starks Park, the Hibees left the pitch with the feint sound of booing emanating from the away section.
Whilst Stubbs and co can point towards an improved performance unless he finds a goalscoring end to his sides product then this season will peter out with a disappointing whimper.
The fans are understandably frustrated but the time to vent those frustrations is at the season’s end. The club and the players need all our support, stick together and we can still achieve our aims.
Hopefully come the end of the season the players will not be left to regret several missed chances.