Hibs come out of messy St Mirren clash with three points, two injuries and one suspension

Kevin Nisbet scores Hibs' winner against St Mirren. Photo by Bill Murray / SNS GroupKevin Nisbet scores Hibs' winner against St Mirren. Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group
Kevin Nisbet scores Hibs' winner against St Mirren. Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group
Hibs’ 1-0 win over St Mirren was a messy game at times, there’s no doubt about it.

But, offered that and three points at the end of it, or the dominant and more fluid performance that ended in a draw at the weekend against Dundee United, Hibs will be content to tuck the win into their back pocket and head along the M8 on Boxing Day in fine fettle when they face Rangers.

Earlier this season they became the first side to score against the league leaders and now they will be looking to inflict their first domestic defeat at Ibrox this term.

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They will have to do it without Christian Doidge, after the Welshman was sent off in the 88th minute for two yellow cards in quick succession against the Buddies. It was enough to even up the numbers after the away side had suffered a similar fate five minutes earlier as Brandon Mason was dismissed.

That final flurry of fouls and recriminations summed up a match that was well-contested but, for the most part, lacked real quality and finesse. The one obvious moment of class came in the 18th minute when Martin Boyle cut in along the 18-yard line and picked out top-scorer Kevin Nisbet. He took one touch and then showed some composure and technique to loft his shot over the encroaching defenders and beyond the St Mirren keeper Jak Alnwick and into the top corner.

As angry as he had been at the weekend, Hibs boss Jack Ross went into this one with an unchanged starting line-up, affording those who had hit the buffers in a scoring sense against Dundee United to try to quickly get back into the swing of things.

But, against a Paisley side on a long unbeaten run, which in reality is an 11-game string although it is blighted by two 3-0 Covid walkovers, there was the recognition that Hibs might have to be patient.

Jim Goodwin’s men have conceded just seven goals in the last nine games and represented a far greater challenge than the one they posed on their home turf earlier in the campaign. That was illustrated most recently by their toppling of Rangers in the Betfred Cup.

Hibs, though, looked fairly comfortable against them despite failing to mastermind a second goal, with St Mirren often pushing them back and giving them possession across their own back line, making it difficult for Hibs to find the right ball forward.

Joe Newell was again integral to that, taking the ball deep, moving the play and picking out gaps to thread passes through, while up front Nisbet was industrious and kept poking and prodding, looking for a sight of goal.

When he got it, though, in the second half he could only find the side netting, perhaps surprised to get the pass in the first place as substitute Drey Wright probably should have taken the shot himself rather than squaring it.

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Wright had replaced Kyle Magennis, one of two fresh injury doubts for Hibs. The former St Mirren midfielder did not re-emerge for the second half after complaining of a tight hamstring and in the 57th minute, he was followed off by keeper Ofir Marciano, struggling of a similar ailment.

A win was welcomed nevertheless. On to Ibrox now.

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