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St Mirren 1 - 0 Hibernian: Dargo delivers for St Mirren as hapless Hibs slump to defeat

After nearly an hour in which St Mirren were playing second fiddle to Hibs, Craig Dargo pounced to give St Mirren their first victory of the season. It was a victory which the home side worked like Trojans to achieve, and was built on a solid defensive display.

Let us get the highlight - one of the very few on the day - up front first. After 58 minutes, Sol Bamba fouled Gareth Wardlaw and Garry Brady, who was tireless in midfield, sent in a long free-kick which Darren McGregor knocked onwards. His striker's instincts on fire, Dargo nipped behind Steven Thicot forming the last line of defence and flashed his low drive past goalkeeper Mark Brown from close range for a poacher's goal par excellence.

There was precious little quality in the game, it must be said. Both managers made changes following the seven goals put past them jointly by the Old Firm last week. John Hughes recalled striker Colin Nish for the suspended midfielder Kevin McBride and opted for a 4-4-2 formation. Hughes also put Steven Thicot in for the injured John Rankin. For St Mirren, Marc McAusland kept his place instead of David van Zanten, and Paul McGowan and Gareth Wardlaw were brought back by Danny Lennon.

Hibs started the game brightly in the sunshine, and forced St Mirren to concede couple of dead ball chances, both of which gave Sol Bamba the merest whiff of an opportunity that he could not take, his headers going wide and high.

The first real scoring chance fell to Hibs' Dutch midfielder Edwin De Graaf after 15 minutes. Lurking outside the box, he picked up a half-clearance and let fly from 25 yards, his shot booming over the bar.

St Mirren tried to up their tempo, but their first-half was largely a tale of huff and puff with precious little penetrative play into the penalty area. What chances there were fell to Hibs, who found the St Mirren goalkeeper Paul Gallacher in continuing fine form. Gallacher could do nothing about Riordan's 25-yard free kick in the 20th minute. Awarded for a foul on Anthony Stokes by John Potter, Riordan's right-footed curler went inches past the post with Gallacher tangled in the side net.

Riordan almost beat the goalkeeper after 32 minutes, again with a free kick from outside the box.This time Gallacher made a superb diving save low to his left to preserve his goal.

Either side of that near thing, evidence that St Mirren were under pressure was shown by two yellow card offences, Garry Brady and McAusland booked for lunges on Bamba and Hanlon respectively.

Most of the 4,480 fans in St Mirren Park were hoping for an improvement from the men in black and white in the second half, but Hibs had all the early pressure, though the home defence coped admirably.

A period of controversy followed, as referee Stevie O'Reilly ignored a couple of tough tackles by the visitors and then booked Wardlaw for a real forward's tackle on Bamba. The Ivory Coast international was given a reprieve by O'Reilly when he exacted some revenge on Wardlaw, but the Saints' fans were incensed by this double standard.

The St Mirren goal energised the home side who charged forward, while De Graaf showed Hibs' frustration by pulling back the industrious Brady, earning a yellow card that was greeted with ironic cheers by the home fans.

The poor quality of Hibs' attacks was the most striking factor of the match at this point, and manager John Hughes was often incandescent in the technical area as he tried to exhort his men forward. In a bid to move things along, he sent on Danny Galbraith, Ian Murray and Rankin for Hanlon, Thicot and Riordan respectively - the latter player's disgust at being replaced was obvious as he marched straight up the tunnel.

St Mirren for their part seemed content to soak up what little real pressure Hibs exerted, and Potter and Lee Mair were immense in defence, while Hugh Murray and Brady were working themselves into a lather in midfield.

Try as they might, Hibs could not put together any move to create a clear-cut chance, and if this was indeed Stokes's last match for Hibs, then it is one he will not look back on kindly as he was one of several underperformers for Hibs.

St Mirren frustrated Hibs all the way to the whistle to gain the points which moved them off the bottom of the SPL.

St Mirren: Gallacher, McAusland (Van Zanten 90), Mair, Potter, Travner, Brady, Murray, McGregor, Dargo (Lynch 69), McGowan, Wardlaw. Subs not used: Samson, Robb, Love, McLennan, McKernon.

Hibernian: Brown, Thicot (Murray 71), Hogg, Bamba, Hanlon (Galbraith 61), Wotherspoon, Miller, De Graaf, Riordan (Rankin 71), Stokes, Nish. Subs not used: Smith, Stevenson, Stephens, Currie.

 
 
 

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