How Stephen Robinson has turned St Mirren into an effective force as Hibs booed off after poor display

It's only right to let out a wry laugh, remembering the pressure Stephen Robinson appeared under in July. St Mirren had been bundled out of the Premier Sports Cup, a continuation of poor form following his appointment to replace Jim Goodwin last season.

The nature of football.

Yet, here we are, just about to head into September and the Buddies are sitting on nine points in the Premiership after defeating Hibs 1-0 in Paisley. A points tally which could easily have been higher if not for Declan Gallagher’s red card at Aberdeen, while their performance in defeat to Motherwell warranted more.

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They are a team very much in the mould of Robinson’s most effective sides when in charge of the Steelmen. They are a nightmare to play against. They are direct and intense, quick in transition and can, at times, be a lot of fun to watch. And it starts from the front with the dual-battering ram of Curtis Main and Jonah Ayunga.

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At the SMiSA Stadium, Hibs enjoyed the majority of possession. They finished the first-half with 66 per cent. Just as St Mirren desire.

An early strike through the livewire Keanu Baccus, running onto a cross from the excellent and industrious wing-back Ryan Strain, gave them an early foundation in which to build on but also protect.

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Robinson has instilled a clear identity in his squad with some shrewd recruitment. Both wing-backs can motor up and down the flanks, Marcus Fraser and Charles Dunne have the mobility to balance the ball-winning qualities of Declan Gallagher. Baccus, Ethan Erhahon and Mark O’Hara eat up ground with ease and are all comfortable on the ball and supporting the front two. Then there is Main and Ayunga. What a nuisance they are. Strong and mobile. It may have not been the best display from either but they constantly engage the opposition defence. Their efforts appreciated by St Mirren fans in three stands around their ground.

Hibs' moments

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Keanu Baccus celebrates putting St Mirren ahead against Hibs (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

For the most part Paul Hanlon was a rock at the centre of defence to quash their efforts.

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Lee Johnson's men had their moments. Christian Doidge steered a header just wide of the post and Joe Newell brought out a brilliant save from Trevor Carson with a low drive in between a big miss from Elie Youan.

That's perhaps epitomised the manager’s reign so far; moments, as they wait to finally click as a collective.

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With the quality they had on the pitch more should have been produced with 70 per cent of the ball. Martin Boyle was on the periphery as Youan frustrated. Both have the pace to frighten the living daylights out of opponents. You wonder how long before one joins Christian Doidge through the middle.

Yet, if anything, Hibs were lucky not to lose by more with Eamonn Brophy, off the bench, hitting the post. Main, Baccus twice and Brophy again had good chances to secure the win.

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The Buddies dug in, soaked up pressure and retained a threat on the break. With energetic options off the bench they were able to maintain an intensity which will make life very difficult for opponents coming to the SMiSA Stadium.

After being on such a downer, St Mirren are on the up under Robinson, while Hibs, booed off, are unsure which direction they are headed.

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St Mirren (3-5-2): Carson; Fraser, Gallagher, Dunne, Strain, Baccus, Erahon (Gogic 79’), O’Hara, Tait; Ayunga (Brophy 67’), Main (Kiltie 76’).

Hibs (4-3-3): Marshall; Cadden, Porteous, Hanlon, Cabraja (Stevenson 70’); Doyles-Hayes, Newell, Campbell (Henderson 70’); Boyle, Doidge, Youan (Melkersen 57’).

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