Hibs falter three minutes from finishing line in fitting end to tough week at St Mirren

At the end of an extremely challenging week, managerless Hibs could not hold on to a lead in the wind and rain in Paisley, drawing 1-1 with St Mirren.

St Mirren's Joe Shaughnessy makes it 1-1 with a close-range finish past Matt Macey.
St Mirren's Joe Shaughnessy makes it 1-1 with a close-range finish past Matt Macey.

Leading thanks to a 52nd-minute strike by Josh Campbell, mental fatigue appeared to get the better of them as they tried to cling on to a slender advantage and get a much-needed win in the cinch Premiership. They cracked three minutes from the finishing line when Joe Shaughnessy levelled for the hosts. It was a fitting end to what has been a tough couple of days for the Edinburgh club.

David Gray took his place in the dugout, in temporary charge as the Hibs board continue their search for a new manager after parting company with Jack Ross on Thursday morning. Having only switched to coaching this summer, it was a big ask of the 33-year-old to guide Hibs to only their second win in ten cinch Premiership matches. They have now only taken five points from their past 30 available points. This is relegation form, make no bones about it.

Aberdeen’s victory at St Johnstone has pulled them further ahead of Hibs and with third-placed Hearts ten points clear, it is matters beneath them that will concern those of a green-and-white persuasion. They are now only six points above bottom spot and with a huge league match against Dundee on Tuesday at Easter Road, thoughts of next weekend’s Premier Sports Cup final against Celtic have to be put on the backburner.

Josh Campbell celebrates putting Hibs 1-0 up against St Mirren.

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St Mirren are on a poor run of form themselves and have now drawn five and lost four of their past nine matches. Unsurprisingly, this was therefore a game low on quality, albeit not helped by the conditions.

Gray was without suspended captain Paul Hanlon, so veteran centre-back Darren McGregor came in and played very well alongside Ryan Porteous. While Hibs started brightly and had a good chance via a Kevin Nisbet’s header, the first-half quickly degenerated and predictably ended goalless.

That changed seven minutes into the second period. Hibs’ goal belongs in a counter-attack textbook. At the second attempt, goalkeeper Matt Macey took a cross at full stretch and quickly bowled the ball forward to Jamie Murphy. He burrowed forward, with Hibs creating an overload on the right flank. Murphy slipped in Martin Boyle, whose cross-shot was blocked in the penalty box. However, the ball fell kindly to Campbell and he drilled it low past a helpless Jak Alnwick.

Despite going ahead, Hibs never looked in control of the match. Clearly fatigued by the sheer number of fixtures right now and the events of the past few days, they dropped deeper and deeper, inviting St Mirren on them.

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Hibs caretaker boss David Gray instructs from the sidelines.

Jamie McGrath sent a free-kick from 20 yards miles over the bar and Curtis Main had a close-range header turned behind by Macey. The hosts were struggling to create meaningful chances despite seeing more of the ball.

However, with just three minutes remaining, they found the equaliser. The ball was shuttled out to Scott Tanser out on the left and his cracking cross found Shaughnessy racing into the penalty box. The St Mirren captain did not need to break stride, firing the ball high past Macey. A draw was fair, even if prolongs poor form for both of these teams.

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Hibs chief executive Ben Kensell was present at the SMISA Stadium.