For the first half hour or so we were terrific. Two goals up, passing the ball about well and looking comfortable. Then, as is the St Mirren way, we made things hard for ourselves. Jim Goodwin was sent off for a rather rash challenge and we faced an hour or so of clinging on. Except it didn't really work out like that, mainly because Hibs are rotten. The only way they'll avoid the play-offs is if other teams don't pass them, not because of anything they do. We saw out the second half relatively comfortably and now have a three point gap to second bottom. Now we just need to keep the momentum going.
It was the same Saints team that started a fortnight ago, a bit surprising considering Marian Kello was back. Hibs had one fullback, a rather old Alan Maybury, so not having any wingers was a bit odd. At least Hibs had left Liam Craig on the bench as James Collins was left relying on Sam Stanton and Danny Hayes for support.
Thirteen is supposedly an unlucky number, but last season we became the 13th different team to win the League Cup - and in the year 2013. This afternoon we kept the trend going by scoring in 13 seconds, Hibs not even touching the ball before it was nestling in their net! John McGinn floated the ball in for Steven Thompson, he knocked it down and Kenny McLean pinged it home without breaking stride. Easy done and an unbelievable start - so it was perhaps unsurprising we looked a bit shaky for a moment or too after that.
Not to worry though as we doubled our lead with a fine goal after a quarter of an hour. McLean opted against shooting this time, instead splitting the defence with a wonderful ball through for Paul McGowan, the diminutive playmaker opting for placement rather than power and slotting the ball just out of Ben Williams' reach into the bottom corner. Incredible stuff, but we have already had problems holding leads this season. Mind you, we nearly bagged a third when McLean put in a cross for Thompson but he couldn't flick it home. We had a bit of a let off when Dilo failed to hold a Stanton drive but fortunately he gathered things up before the onrushing Collins could get on the scene.
So, two goals up against a team that's not very good and struggling for confidence. Half an hour gone, you're on course for three vital points in the battle to avoid the play-offs. And then your captain gets sent off. Ah. I knew it was going too well! A foul had already been given before Jim Goodwin tackled Kevin Thomson, who our players appeared to be trying to wind up at every opportunity. It was a silly thing to do, especially with his reputation, and Kevin Clancy decided a red card was the only suitable punishment. Another player might have got away with it, but it was a rash challenge and put us in a ridiculous situation.
We almost gave away a penalty soon after when Marc McAusland brought down Sam Stanton. He was booked but it was just outside the box and the free-kick was poor. There was another Let-off when we got ripped apart on the right after McGowan lost the ball, but Stanton comically blootered the ball over from a great position. We almost extended the lead just before the break as Sean Kelly burst forward but could only drag his shot wide of the far post after great play between him and McGinn.
We had, unsurprisingly, been up against it since the red card and we had to regroup at the break. Just digging in, clearing everything away and hoping we could cling on wasn't going to work. Hibs were fired up for the second half, as evidence by their players being back out about five minutes earlier than ours! We were put under pressure but rode out the first wave, McGinn even getting Owain Tudur Jones a booking after being fouled as he tried to break. From the free-kick the ball fell for Newton, who slammed it straight at Williams. The Hibs goalie was in action again a minute or so later when he saved a shot from Josh Magennis, who had just come on for McGowan.
The Hibs second wave had arrived with corner after corner, one falling kindly for Thomson at the edge of the box who fortunately hammered it a few yards wide of goal. It was one of those shots that could have gone anywhere, especially if it had hit a player, so it was a relief when it hit an advertising board. Jones headed another corner straight at Dilo before a rare Saints chance came when Hibs kindly split their own defence for Thompson, but he tried and failed to execute an ambitious lob. Near namesake Thomson was then booked for halting McGinn's run before Dilo easily saved efforts from Alex Harris and Michael Nelson.
In between we replaced Thompson, who was knackered, with Wylde - not as crazy as it seemed as Magennis was moved from out wide to up front. Hibs subs Duncan Watmore and Jason Cummings both curled shots over when they should perhaps have done better. Cummings was closer next time but thankfully the shot went wide - although again it wasn't until it hit the advertising boards we could breathe a sigh of relief! A booking for Jordon Forster for flattening Magennis marked the start of stoppage time, as did Gary Teale replacing McGinn. It was an attempt to run the ball down but there was nothing to worry about as Hibs were as toothless as they'd been for the rest of the game.
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