Report: St Mirren 0-2 Hibernian


By Stuart Gillespie at the Paisley 2021 Stadium
Saints’ stuttering start to the season continued this afternoon as they were beaten at home by Hibs.
It was Jason Cummings who did the damage in the first half, the striker converting David Gray’s cross before taking advantage of a horrendous mix-up between Scott Gallacher and Jack Baird to grab his second. He had chances to complete his treble before the break as the visitors looked to kill the game off.
Often teams are made to pay for passing up such chances but today wasn’t one of those days. After a couple of openings were squandered, the game settled down until the final 10 minutes when there was a flurry of goalmouth action at both ends.
If you hadn’t known any better you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was a friendly. It took until six minutes from time for Saints to get a shot on target and had Hibs been put under any sustained pressure you got the feeling they would just have clicked up a few gears to deal with the problem.
Gallacher was back in goals at the expense of Jamie Langfield, one of three changes after the previous week’s defeat at Raith Rovers. John Sutton took over from Ryan Hardie up front and Tom Walsh replaced the injured Calum Gallagher. Hibs opted to leave new signings Andrew Shinnie and Brian Graham on the bench, Cummings starting up front with former Buddies John McGinn and Darren McGregor also in the team.
McGinn should have given the visitors the lead after 10 minutes. A cross from the left caused problems in the Saints defence and when the ball was cleared as far as David Gray he played it back in only for the unmarked McGinn to volley wide. Neil Lennon’s side were on top and it was little surprise they took the lead midway through the half. Lewis Morgan committed himself too early as he tried in vain to halt the progress of the rampaging Gray, the Hibs skipper getting to the byline before crossing for Cummings to slot home the opener.
For all that the visitors had seen plenty of the ball, they hadn’t exactly been creating a plethora of chances. However, Saints had enjoyed neither opportunities or possession, their first meaningful attempt on goal coming when Kyle Hutton intercepted a Hibs throw and teed up Stephen Mallan, who sent a 25-yard drive narrowly over the top corner of Ross Laidlaw’s goal. If that created some hope among the home fans, it wasn’t to last as their side was soon two goals down. Gallacher and Baird left a harmless ball to the other to deal with and Cummings didn’t need asking twice, immediately rushing in to mop up possession and squeeze a shot into the net from a tight angle.
The cautious optimism turned into vocal disgruntlement and there was no let up from Hibs, James Keatings not too far away with a hopeful 30 yard effort before Cummings was sent through only to shoot straight at Gallacher. The Saints defence was struggling to cope with the striker and another chance for the hat-trick arrived soon after, this time Gallacher saving it before reacting quickly to keep out Grant Holt’s follow-up effort. Brief respite came when Saints were awarded a free-kick but Mallan’s delivery was a little too deep and Andy Webster couldn’t get his header on target – much to the delight of the Hibs fans behind the goal. Their side resumed the hunt for a third and it almost arrived when Gray found McGinn at the edge of the box, the midfielder going close with a powerful effort.
Half-Time: St Mirren 0-2 Hibernian
Morgan, who’d been on the end of a hefty challenge early in the first half, failed to reappear after the break, Hardie replacing him. The young striker – who has scored in his last three games for Saints and Rangers under-20s – had a chance to make an instant impact as the ball dropped to him in the box, however he smashed his shot well off target. Hutton was first in the book for wrestling with Lewis Stevenson before Baird had a chance to partially redeem himself for earlier. Mallan’s free-kick was flicked on to the back post but the big defender couldn’t adjust himself quickly enough and he headed well over.
There was no cavalry charge to follow those chances, Hibs looking well in control without really threatening to add a third. Midway through the half Shinnie was handed his debut at the expense of Keatings with Saints putting David Clarkson on for Sutton, Jordan Stewart replacing Lawrence Shankland a few minutes later. Hibs responded with Graham being handed his first appearance in the fluorescent shirt when he came on for Holt.
Things got a bit more interesting in the final stages as the chances began to come. Shinnie went close to grabbing a debut goal when he shot just over from 20 yards or so before Saints finally managed a shot on target as Laidlaw held Clarkson’s effort. Shinnie again went close to scoring as he curled a shot over the bar but there was to be no hat-trick for Cummings, who was replaced by Martin Boyle for the final few minutes.
Mallan almost found the net with a spectacular free-kick that flashed just past the post before Stewart was booked for fouling Bartley. The free-kick almost provided Hibs with their third, Gallacher doing well to block Graham’s shot from close range. In the final seconds McGinn almost increased the misery on his old side as he rattled the bar with a howitzer, the ball dropping in front of the line before bouncing to safety.
Full-Time: St Mirren 0-2 Hibernian
St Mirren: Gallacher, Naismith, Irvine, Webster, Sutton (Clarkson 70), Shankland (Stewart 75), Mallan, Walsh, Hutton, Baird, Morgan (Hardie 46).
Subs Not Used: Whyte, Gordon, McDonald, Langfield (GK).
Hibernian: Laidlaw, Gray, Hanlon, Bartley, McGinn, Holt (Graham 76), McGeough, Stevenson, Keatings (Shinnie 68), McGregor, Cummings (Boyle 84).
Subs Not Used: Fyvie, Forster, Crane, Virtanen (GK).
Referee: Don Robertson.
Assistant Referee: Stuart Hodge.
Assistant Referee: Kevin McElhinney.
Attendance: 4,517
Match report and match gallery pictures by John Millar – © John Millar.

[Show as slideshow]