St Mirren 2 - 3 Hibs: Breathing space for Calderwood as Hibs edge game to savour
WHEN two sides who like to play attacking football go hammer and tongs at each other on a day when defences dither, the result can be spectacular, entertaining football.
That was certainly the case in the first half in Paisley yesterday, when five goals and no end of good attacking football reminded you that the SPL can be thrilling stuff.
St Mirren’s manager Danny Lennon had issued a rallying cry for attacking entertaining football and was unrepentant afterwards. “It’s the way we play. You are not going to tell me that wasn’t entertaining, even being on the end of a 3-2 defeat.”
Rather more mundanely, Hibs manager Colin Calderwood said his side had shown “a good reaction after our below-par performance last week”.
After a bright start by Saints, Hibs began to press and scored at the first time of asking a serious question of the home defence after just six minutes. Goalkeeper Craig Samson messed up his attempt to dribble out of trouble and allowed Leigh Griffiths to dispossess him and slot the ball home for his first goal for Hibs. Lennon exonerated Samson, saying mistakes get made with the way his side play.
This unexpected early breakthrough gave Hibs the confidence to play further upfield than usual, with David Wotherspoon, Isaiah Osbourne and Junior Agogo directing their operations from midfield in what looks to be a useful grouping.
Despite being pressed, St Mirren nevertheless stuck to their passing, probing game, but their normal accuracy was not always evident. The home side did have the better of the chances, however, with Steven Thompson’s header from a Teale free kick going just wide.
Kenny McLean shot high and wide and then sent a further shot straight at Graeme Stack either side of a Hibs “goal” superbly struck by Osbourne that was chalked off for an earlier infringement.
Paul McGowan, unusually, had been a virtual no-show for the first half-hour, but you cannot keep this irrepressible character down. Just before the half-hour mark, Hibs had all the pressure and had won a string of corners but could do nothing with them. It was then St Mirren’s turn to attack and Hibs could not clear their lines after 32 minutes, David van Zanten roaming to outside-right and sending in a sweet curling cross which McGowan leaped to head home from an unmarked position.
Stack got a hand to that shot but two minutes later he couldn’t get close as Thompson’s header from a Teale free kick was half-cleared to McGowan and the little midfielder fairly thumped the ball home from just outside the penalty spot.
St Mirren’s lead lasted less than six minutes. Hibs won a free kick on their right wing and Wotherspoon’s inch-perfect cross was headed down and into the net by Sean O’Hanlon. He had towered over Thompson to reach the ball, referee Bobby Madden ignoring protests that the striker had been fouled.
With adrenaline the biggest asset on display, Hibs rushed forward after 41 minutes and Garry O’Connor, who had been doing a lot of the fetching and carrying without reward, sent a delightful chip over the home defence for Griffiths to outpace van Zanten and smash the ball home for his second and Hibs’ third goal.
Not surprisingly, the second half could not match the first, and to be fair, both defences were much tighter. There was little let-up in the effort department, however. Lennon sent on Nigel Hasselbaink for Steven Thomson and the Dutchman was soon troubling Hibs. Indeed, he was involved in an amazing double miss after 67 minutes, Thompson’s goalbound shot being deflected by Stack only as far as Hasselbaink who looked certain to score only for Paul Hanlon to do enough to put him off his shot which went wide.
Lewis Stevenson and Akpo Sodje came on for Griffiths – he admitted afterwards he asked to be substituted as his legs were “feeling heavy” – and Danny Galbraith, and they combined to set up Sodje for a close range tap-in which he somehow managed to scoop over the bar. At the other end, McLean’s effort was blocked by O’Hanlon and Jim Goodwin’s follow-up rebounded from the junction of crossbar and upright, before Agogo spurned the chance to finish the contest, electing to shoot at Samson when Sodje was clear in front of goal.
St Mirren laid siege to the visitors’ goal in the dying minutes, with Stack foiling Thompson while in injury time Jeroen Tesselaar hit the side netting with a fierce left-foot shot but Hibs held out.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North west