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Report: St Mirren 2-2 Hibernian


Report: St Mirren 2-2 Hibernian
By Stuart Gillespie at the Paisley 2021 Stadium
A late goal denied Saints a well-deserved win over promotion chasing Hibs in Paisley this afternoon.
After an instantly forgettable opening 20 minutes, the game sparked into life when former Buddie John McGinn sent Jason Cummings through to tuck away the opener for the visitors. But Saints didn’t buckle and they drew level in controversial circumstances, Rocco Quinn scoring from close range despite loud claims he was offside.
The turnaround was completed just before the hour mark, Calum Gallagher doing well to send Lawrence Shankland away and he fired Saints into the lead. With little in the way of a Hibs response that looked as if it would be enough, but with just a couple of minutes to go Anthony Stokes cut the ball back into the box and Farid El Alagui smashed it home to salvage a draw that was little use for either side.
Quinn was back in the team after a spell on the sidelines and he took the place of Scott Agnew, Jack Baird returning to the defence at the expense of Jordan Stewart. Former Saints McGinn and Darren McGregor started for a Hibs side looking to end a run of four straight league defeats.
It took more than a quarter of an hour for either side to create anything resembling a chance, Marvin Bartley getting in behind Keith Watson before playing the ball across the Saints goal for Cummings. The striker was unable to connect but rightback David Gray should have done better than send the ball wide of the target. A rash challenge on Calum Gallagher earned Lewis Stevenson a booking before Hibs took the lead. McGinn was given all the time and space he needed to slide an inch perfect pass through to Cummings and, as the linesman’s flag stayed down, the striker coolly slotted past Jamie Langfield in the Saints goal to put the visitors in front.
If there were questions about that goal being offside, they were nothing compared to the ones that accompanied Saints’ equaliser. With the Hibs defence unable to get the ball clear, Stuart Carswell nodded it back into the mix and Quinn finished clinically from close range. The Hibs players and fans were furious and they may have had a point as it’s difficult to understand how the midfielder could have found himself in so much space without being ahead of the last defender, however the linesman didn’t even twitch to signal for offside and the former Ross County man had his first Buddies goal. It later emerged the officials believed the ball had last come off a Hibs player before finding its way through to Quinn.
A delay so that Bartley could have treatment for a head-knock allowed the protests to continue and a rather mundane game had suddenly become a bit feisty, Alex Cooper was booked soon after the restart for a challenge on Martin Boyle. Quinn failed to connect with Lawrence Shankland’s cross as Saints looked for a second before Cooper sent a rather ambitious effort well wide of goal as the half came to a close.
Half-Time: St Mirren 1-1 Hibernian
Hibs almost retook the lead in bizarre fashion 10 minutes after the break, Liam Henderson’s powerful cross flying straight through and Langfield reacted well to keep it out before the Saints defence hacked the ball to safety. Instead, it was the Buddies who moved in front just before the hour mark. Some superb play between Gallagher and Shankland allowed the former to send the latter in behind the Hibs defence and the striker made no mistake, drilling the ball across goalie Mark Oxley into the bottom corner to put the Buddies in front.
Shankland had scored a couple of screamers against Livingston a fortnight ago and must have fancied adding to his collection, however this time he was miles off target after turning and unleashing a shot from the edge of the box. Hibs knew they had to respond and Martin Boyle was replaced by Chris Dagnall before a foul on Shankland gave Stephen Mallan the chance to try his luck, however his free-kick was straight at Oxley. Cummings was beginning to let his frustrations get the better of him and was rightly booked for bouncing the ball in disgust after a decision didn’t go his way.
Shankland’s long throws were causing the Hibs defence a few problems and when one was cleared back to him he lashed a first-time shot across goal and behind. Next time Shankland had a go after he’d got the better of Paul Hanlon, however Oxley dealt comfortably with the shot. Saints weren’t being overly troubled by Hibs and were creating a few chances to boot, Cooper robbing McGinn and teeing up Mallan whose shot flashed wide. Hibs added a fourth striker when Farid El Alagui replaced Bartley and the change almost worked straight away, Langfield doing well to block an effort from Stokes. Saints introduced an extra striker of their own for the last 15 minutes as goalscorer Quinn was replaced by Steven Thompson.
Langfield denied Stokes again – although needed two goes at it – as the game entered the final 10 minutes, Henderson then being booked for persistent fouling. Hibs only cleared the free-kick as far as Cooper and while he didn’t get his shot away terribly well, it had Oxley scrambling as the ball trundled just wide. Gray was next in the book for one foul too many before Carswell was cautioned for kicking the ball away seconds before Hibs drew level. They’d hardly been battering the door down in a bid to equalise but flinging on as many strikers as they could paid off a couple of minutes from the end, Stokes pulling the ball back for El Alagui to fire clinically past Langfield. Their fans sensed a dramatic turnaround but the Saints defence stood firm, meaning both sides had to be satisfied with a share of the spoils.
Full-Time: St Mirren 2-2 Hibernian
St Mirren: Langfield, Webster, Carswell, Mallan, Baird, Watson, Gallagher, Shankland, Quinn (Thompson 76), Irvine, Cooper.
Subs Not Used: Goodwin, Gow, Agnew, Morgan, Stewart, Willison (GK).
Hibernian: Oxley, Gray, Henderson, Hanlon, Bartley (El Alagui 75), Stevenson, Boyle (Dagnall 60), McGinn, McGregor, Stokes, Cummings.
Subs Not Used: Handling, Gunnarsson, Thomson, Donaldson, Virtanen (GK).
Referee: Craig Charleston.
Assistant Referee: Dougie Potter.
Assistant Referee: Jordan Curran.
Attendance: 3,765 (TBC Hibernian fans)
Star Saint: Rocco Quinn.
Match report pictures and gallery pictures © John Millar.

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