Hibs reclaim third spot with emphatic performance against St Mirren as VAR takes centre stage once more

One suspects that views on VAR may be fluid, shifting polemically across the various contours of a 90 minute game.
Hibs players celebrate after Martin Boyle's opening goal.Hibs players celebrate after Martin Boyle's opening goal.
Hibs players celebrate after Martin Boyle's opening goal.

The Hibs support cursed the technology in the opening stages of this cinch Premiership encounter between Hibs and St Mirren at Easter Road when what looked like a beautiful Mykola Kukharevych’s goal was chopped off. So legitimate did the strike initially appear that there were few on either side who protested the ‘goal.’ There was some consternation then when a VAR check identified Marijan Cabraja as being in an offside position as he had collected Joe Newell’s perfectly weighted pass. It proved to count as little other than a statistical footnote in this game but did seem to serve as an indication of the frame of mind Hibs were in as they went on to win 3-0.If VAR was something to be dismissed at that point, the home side had traded position on the cusp of the interval when referee Don Robertson was alerted to the use of Richard Tait’s hand that denied Chris Cadden’s effort in the box. Martin Boyle calmly dispatched the penalty, sending Trevor Carson the wrong way as he shut his ears to a bit of gamesmanship by the St Mirren defence.Whatever the vagaries of the decision making process there was nothing ambiguous about this Hibs performance which was full of aggression and purpose as the Easter Road side moved into third spot in the cinch Premiership, a position that has become something of a hot desk in recent weeks. Their ability to stay there will depend now on what comes next. The main criticism directed towards Lee Johnson’s side has been an inability to piece together a consistent run of form this term with victories such as Saturday afternoon’s too often followed by a drop in tempo and energy.There was no shortage of either on display against a St Mirren side who had fancied themselves to give Hibs a run for their money for that up-for-grabs third place. Indeed, it was a fairly even opening half that was played at what could best be described as a Scottish football pace with both teams laudably committed to attacking intent. Ewan Henderson had scooped an effort wide of the target an elegant bit of footwork in the box while Boyle had a fierce volley blocked by Carson. His opposite number, David Marshall, had to push away a decent effort from Ayunga and Curtis Main.Hibs might have made life a little more comfortable for themselves had Kukharevych converted Newell’s inviting low cross across the face of goal but he could not get the required touch to bundle the ball into the net. He atoned almost immediately. Henderson weaved a pass through the St Mirren defence to release him and, while he initially stumbled as he collected, he recovered his poise to outmuscle Alex Gogic and strike the ball cleanly into the bottom corner.The best was yet to come. Henderson’s goal was the pick of the bunch and seemed to encapsulate the verve and confidence that Hibs had brought to the second period. The midfielder was perfectly placed to collect as Elias Melkersen’s deflected shot fell tantalisingly into his path; a crisp and rasping finish drove it into the top right-hand corner of Carson’s goal.It was no less than Hibs deserved on an afternoon when there could be little doubt about the merit of the points.