THERE are three things certain in this life. Death, taxes, and, as a group, Hibernian supporters are quite possibly the most tortured souls to have shuffled about this mortal coil in a state of perpetual exacerbation.

Generations of pokes and prods about how it’s been that long since they won the Scottish Cup that Greyfriars Boaby had a celebratory can of Chappie to commemorate the event have not been helped in recent years by a new collection of jibes. Heartaches at Hampden, last season’s narrow play-off semi-final defeat and this campaign’s faltering title challenge only compounding matters for those around Leith. It’s not that sunny, either.

While the ghost of Scottish Cup past may be exorcised later this month, yesterday’s game against Queen of the South was another agonising and nervy afternoon for the Hibs support.

After Rangers were allowed to canter out of sight earlier in the year, the priority then lay with at least holding on to second place, therefore avoiding two play-off quarter-final games. This even became a hardship for the Edinburgh club who were blindsided by Falkirk and left playing catch up for the final few games of their campaign.

But, in true Hibs style, not even disappointment is straightforward. Tuesday night’s 4-0 thrashing of Dumbarton ensured their pursuit of second place would stay alive until the final day, with all sorts of permutations meaning they could still gazump Falkirk. With Peter Houston’s side going on to win 1-0, a 4-0 victory for Alan Stubbs’ team would have seen them triumph on a head-to-head match up.

Alas, many Hibs supporters will admit that it’s the hope that kills you, and there were several doses of it around Easter Road yesterday as the home side, perhaps predictably, came up just short in a 2-0 victory.

In an enthralling match in which they had enough chances to have easily notched up four goals, there were several points in which the expectation level among the vast majority of the 9900 inside the ground started to raise. In a drab first half that ended goalless, there was still some comfort in the news that Falkirk had just gone in with the same scoreline at the break having missed a penalty, only for them to score seconds after the restart.

Into the second period in Edinburgh and a Queen of the South red card only added to the suspense before two goals via Niklas Gunnarsson and Jason Cummings contributed to a grandstand but ultimately futile finish.

Cummings has suffered greatly along with his supporters, even though he has only been at the Leith club for three years. It was the talented forward’s penalty that ultimately relegated Hibs back in the 2014 play-off final against Hamilton Academical. It was his 94th-minute goal against Rangers in last year’s play-off semi-final that saw his team come up just short, and it was his header on the same ground yesterday that put Hibs within two of their ultimate goal, only for matters to end in disappointment.

“I’ve been in the play-offs a couple of times now and the last two have obviously not gone well for me, they’ve been a bit of a struggle – so I hope we do better this time,” said the confident 20-year-old who now stands on 25 goals for the season.

“You can’t fear it. You can’t go in there with fear. I think we’ll be going in there as favourites. So, if anything, the other teams will be scared to play us.

“I wouldn’t say any of the teams would want to come and play us. So that puts us in a good mind set as favourites.”

In truth, Stubbs could not have asked for much more from his players here as they bossed a game for 90 minutes while not breaking from their philosophy of sharp interplays, clever runs and patient build up. With James Keatings preferred up front over Cummings, the former Hearts man and Liam Henderson both were denied on four minutes by Queens goalkeeper James Atkinson, while Anthony Stokes and John McGinn were also thwarted from the edge of the area throughout the half.

With news of Falkirk’s goal coming through, Hibs’ charge was inevitably stepped up as the chances started to flow. Keatings had arguably their best of the match when a neat one-two played him through on goal, but he somehow failed to beat Atkinson while unmarked 10 yards out on 50 minutes.

Four minutes later and the key moment arrived as Mark Millar was dismissed for a cynical lunge on John McGinn. This, coupled with Cummings’ introduction, gave fresh hope to the Hibs support who eventually got a goal on 67 minutes. The impressive Henderson burst to the byeline to drill a low ball back across goal and into the path of full-back Gunnarsson, who popped up as unlikely goal hero to turn it in from a couple of yards out.

With 12 minutes to go, the second was conjured up from a terrific Martin Boyle cross. The ball fell perfectly for Cummings and his header back across goal deceived Atkinson.

The forward would go close again, as did substitute Chris Dagnall, Stokes and Gunnarsson, but not close enough to spare them a trip to Stark’s Park on Wednesday night.

“A lot of people thought we would come here and get turned over and that was an extra motivation for us,” said Gavin Skelton, the Queen of the South caretaker manager whose team finished their Championship campaign in seventh. “I think the play-offs will be interesting now. The pressure will be on Hibs, Raith have done great this season so no one will fancy playing them and Falkirk have probably exceeded expectations so it’s a difficult call to make.”