Still, rain or shine, they can depend on some things – Martin Boyle and, increasingly, Christian Doidge.
The former added to his tally of assists with the cross from which Scott Allan sidefooted in to begin Hibs’ comeback as a squall of rain swept in from the Forth estuary. Doidge then struck his 15th goal of what’s turning out to be a hugely productive first season at the club with a superb header that further enhances his Wales international call-up prospects.
It was as if the Hibs players had, like their manager Jack Ross, been up half the night finalising transfer deals. St Mirren started like a train and were quickly two goals to the fore. Conor McCarthy’s first goal for the club and one from Tony Andreu four minutes later had St Mirren fans surely anticipating a rare away victory.
But Hibs are well versed in making things difficult for themselves. This was the fourth time in a row at home that they have conceded the first goal. It’s as if they enjoy the challenge. All’s well that ends well, as happened recently against Hamilton Accies and Dundee United. But this was not the case here. A point won or two dropped? Hibs fans will undoubtedly view it as the latter.
While pleasing to have staged a comeback from 2-0 down, the fact this was accomplished by half-time meant the home supporters expected more, far more, in the second half, when all three deadline day signings were introduced.
Paul McGinn, who replaced the struggling David Gray at right-back after the interval, might have adorned his debut with a headed winner against the team he has just left but his old mate Vaclav Hladky was equal to it.
Greg Docherty, a loan signing from Rangers, and Marc McNulty, who was making his second Hibs debut, were also blooded early in the second half but to little avail. Ross spoke afterwards about the complexities of the night before, with the need to tie up a striker having intensified following the loan deal struck with Rangers involving Florian Kamberi.
“It was a peculiar night,” reported the manager. “Flo leaving would have left us incredibly short in the attacking area. Marc’s deal itself was not straightforward – he was on loan elsewhere from his parent club [Reading]. It was difficult because of the complex nature of all the deals but I am pleased with how it worked out in the end.”
Docherty and McGinn showed up well, while McNulty, who has played only 20 minutes of football this year, looked a little rusty.
There were few cheers at the end from the home sections. The St Mirren fans, having probably feared the worst at one stage, saluted their players after they fought to preserve a very decent point. The visitors were the joint lowest goalscorers in the league at the start of play with just 19 goals. Within 18 minutes here they had added two more to the number and were threatening to blow Hibs away.
The first was just the latest case of Hibs being slow to pick up at a corner. Cameron MacPherson’s delivery was met by McCarthy, who planted an unchallenged header from just outside the six-yard box beyond Ofir Marciano.
Only 14 minutes had elapsed. Easter Road grumbled its discontent and worse was to follow. A switch of play from right to left meant Gray was left badly exposed, and after beating the full-back the impressive Ilkay Durmus had the poise to look up and pick out Andreu, who steered home.
What did Hibs have in them in this, their fifth game in 13 days? With that in mind, being level by the break was an achievement in itself. St Mirren manager Jim Goodwin blamed himself for helping the hosts recover. He wished he had ordered his players to calm down rather than try to source a surely game-ending third goal, with Hibs – and specifically Allan – exploiting the pockets of space this left.
The midfielder exchanged passes with Boyle before hitting a shot beyond Hladky for his third goal in his last three appearances.
Stephane Omeonga was the architect of Hibs’ equaliser three minutes before half-time with a cross from the left but there was still plenty for Doidge to do, as the ball was slightly behind him. The striker arced his neck back and managed to make a sure enough connection to send the ball past Hladky.