By Blair McNally
Hibs ended St Mirren’s good unbeaten run, winning 1-0 at Easter Road in a game which neither team finished with 11 men.
The hosts came into this game looking to further their efforts in the chase for a spot in the top three. St Mirren on the other hand were looking to cause another upset after wins against Aberdeen and a famous League Cup win over league leaders Rangers meant they were on a fine run of form, 11 games unbeaten.
Jack Ross’ men started off the brighter of the two, pressing high with confidence, however, they were limited in their chances by a strong St Mirren defence.
The breakthrough eventually came through that man again, Kevin Nisbet. A driving run by Martin Boyle, in from the right, was passed to Nisbet at the edge of the box. He calmly touched the ball before dispatching a beautiful strike into the top right corner, leaving Jak Alnwick with no chance.
St Mirren found themselves lucky not to be two goals behind going into the break. Caught slacking, a quick free kick from the Hibs players met Boyle free on the right side of the box. He reached the touchline before finding Ryan Porteous in the goalmouth, but his effort was blocked by a last ditch challenge from Joe Shaughnessy.
Five minutes into the second half and St Mirren had a glorious chance to draw level. Cammy MacPherson found himself far out on the left, whipping a dangerous ball into the centre of the Hibs box. He picked out the head of Ilkay Durmus who headed wide, much to the delight of the out of position Hibee defenders.
Hibs fans will be left praying ahead of Saturday’s tie against Rangers after Ofir Marciano was forced off in the 57th minute with a game-ending injury.
With 30 minutes to go, Jon Obika had a huge change to make an instant impact. He found himself through on goal after a long ball was played over the Hibs defence. He pulled the trigger far too early, placing it straight into the retreating substitute goalkeeper Dillon Barnes’ arms.
A disappointing night at the office for the Saints was topped off by Brandon Mason’s second yellow card after bringing down Boyle for the second time in the match. Hibs soon had their own problems after Christian Doidge was awarded two yellow cards in the space of three minutes, the second for a dangerous elbow.
But it was Ross’ men who held on for a big three points. Here are three things we learned.
Hibs a strong force
Ross’ men should be confident going into their Boxing Day crunch match with league leaders, Rangers.
After managing to do what many couldn’t and break down this St Mirren defence whilst keeping a clean sheet, there is no reason why they can’t replicate St Mirren’s result with the strength and depth they posses from back to front.
St Mirren run ended
After a tremendous run of 11 games without defeat, Goodwin’s side can hold their head high and will most certainly look to get back on track with a win against bottom of the league, Ross County, on Boxing Day.
This game will be a great test to see if the Saints can bounce back after a poor night at the office and keep themselves out of the relegation fight.
Festive form key
As we see at this time of year, the festive period can become make or break for most clubs. After this result, Hibs seem confident of chasing the tails of second-placed Celtic, while remaining a step ahead of Aberdeen.
St Mirren will be keen to cement their place as a mid-table outfit, battling for a spot in the top 6 of Scotland’s top division, after falling to only a point above second bottom.
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