Preview: St Mirren v Hibernian


Hibernian come to Paisley tomorrow afternoon with a new manager in charge of the Leith side since their last visit to the Paisley 2021 Stadium last April. Neil Lennon took over at Easter Road after Alan Stubbs signed off shortly after winning the Scottish Cup to take up a new post south of the border with Rotherham United.
Lennon is no stranger to the game in Scotland having played with Celtic for seven years going on to eventually manage the Glasgow side from 2010 to 2014. The man from Northern Ireland hasn’t tweaked things too much from the side that won the Scottish Cup in May for the first time in 114 years but he brought in some competition up front by signing Rochdale striker Grant Holt and beefing up his goalkeeping corp by signing Ross Laidlaw from Raith Rovers and bringing in on loan Ofir Marciano from Israeli side FC Ashdod. Earlier this week Lennon added more new blood to his squad by signing former Inverness Caley Thistle midfielder Andrew Shinnie on loan from Birmingham City.
Lennon still has the bulk of the squad he inherited from Stubbs and all-in-all it is a group of really good quality. Up front they have one of the most lethal strikers in the Scottish game in the shape of Jason Cummings who has already bagged 3 goals this season to bring his tally up to 49 goals in 112 outings. There are also a couple of familiar faces in the Hibs ranks with former Buddies John McGinn and Darren McGregor who are both now plying their trade in Leith. Club Captain David Gray has impressed since signing for Hibs in 2014 and is joined by Liam Fontaine, Paul Hanlon, Lewis Stevenson and the aforementioned McGregor as the mainstays in defence.
In midfield Lennon has a fair bit of quality at his disposal with the likes of McGinn, Fraser Fyvie, Dyland McGeouch, Danny Handling, Alex Harris and Marvin Bartley. Up front Holt and Cummings have competition from Jamie Insall and James Keatings.
The side from Easter Road have got off to a good start this season, League Cup exit to Queen of the South aside, as they look to make up for their woes in losing to Falkirk in the promotion playoffs last season. It was an earlier than usual start to the season with a Europa League qualifier against Brondby that saw The Hibees go down 1-0 at Easter Road Stadium. The return tie in Denmark saw David Gray’s goal take the game to extra-time and then penalties but unfortunately Hibs lost out. The league season started in Falkirk where amends were made for that playoff loss with a 2-1 win courtesy of a brace from Cummings. The Leith side were rocked in the Betfred Cup going down 3-1 to Queen of the South before bouncing back with a 2-1 win against Dunfermline last weekend.
St Mirren’s early season form failed to improve last weekend at Kirkcaldy as they went down 3-1 to Raith Rovers. Saints were 3-0 down early in the second half and even though on-loan striker Ryan Hardie pulled a goal back it wasn’t enough to spark a comeback to take anything from the game.
Saints and Hibs met four times last season with the Edinburgh side coming out on top with two wins sandwiched in between two draws. The last meeting of last season on 2nd April was an entertaining outing. Jason Cummings gave the visitors the lead on 27 minutes but ten minutes before half-time Rocco Quinn scored to level the match up again. Lawrence Shankland gave Saints the lead early in the seocnd half but the Paisley side couldn’t hold on for the win as a last minute goal from Farid El Alagui forced a share of the spoils.
As a rule this match tends to be a pretty good contest and we should see a good healthy turnout as the fans look to be served up a good ninety minutes worth of action.