St Mirren 1 - 2 Hibs: Winning return for Jack Ross as Hibs dig deep for three victories on the bounce

New Hibs boss Jack Ross had been eyeing up the congested fixture list as a way to suss out the merits of the squad he inherited but, on the back of two victories on the bounce, he was content that there was no real reason for him to tinker with the starting line-up in this one.

Clockwise from top left: Doidge celebrates his goal, Mallan converts from the spot, Hibs celebrate the second goal and Jack Ross greets Jim Goodwin

That may not be the case going forward after his men were tested in Paisley.

The weekend win over Motherwell had catapulted them into the top six and, looking to put even more distance between themselves and their disappointing start to the league season, the Leith club looked to build on the growing momentum,

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But, up against the man who did so much to lift them from the Championship doldrums during his time there, St Mirren were looking to get the win that would allow them to escape the cluster of clubs bogged down at the foot of the table.

On the night that captain Stephen McGinn was making his 200th appearance for the club, they were up for the fight.

They had shown their resilience against Ross County at the weekend, coming back from behind to collect all three points.

They showed similar character here, pinning Hibs in for long periods of the second half but this time they lacked the composure needed in front of goal to turn that into something tangible and Hibs were able to hang on.

It was a dogged rather than dynamic display from the capital club, who established their lead against the run of play in the 27th minute and pretty much hung on thereafter.

The guests had looked comfortable in the early exchanges but as the first half reached the halfway mark it was the hosts in the ascendancy.

With Hibs assistant manager John Potter belllowing at the players to stop the cross getting in from the right, St Mirren’s Calum Waters defied Hibs’ best efforts and swiped a ball into a dangerous area and Kyle Magennis really should have done better but couldn’t find the target, let alone test visiting goalkeeper Chris Maxwell with his header.

Just after that Ryan Flynn’s effort was blocked and then Sean McLoughlin sent his downward header bouncing just past the post from Flynn’s corner.

But Hibs enjoyed the better luck when they broke upfield in the 27th minute as Jason Naismith's lovely outswinging delivery picked out Christian Doidge and the Welshman’s header cannoned off his marker and looped up and over Vaclav Hladky before dropping into the net behind the keeper.

The goal did little to shift the momentum of the match, as St Mirren looked undeterred and continued to push forward and they had an opening when Ryan Porteous misjudged a ball forward and ended up on the turf as Jon Obika carried on into the box but he was profligate and allowed Paul Hanlon to sweep in and rescue the situation.

Obika should have done better when his team-mates patiently carved out another chance soon after. St Mirren were patient in their build up but the striker's effort was weak and up against a diligent Hibs rearguard, the home team just couldn’t find a breakthrough.

In the second half Ross, recognising the difficulty his men were having trying to get onto the front foot, sent Martin Boyle and Daryl Horgan on but it was still an evening of backs-to-the-wall action as they struggled to get upfield.

But for all their possession and territorial gains in the second half, Jim Goodwin’s men were hit with a 81st minute suckerpunch, as Boyle’s pace and direct running forced McLoughlin into a lunge at the byline and referee Alan Newlands, who had been harangued by the home crowd for most of the match, pointed to the spot.

Former Buddy Stevie Mallan took it and buried it to give the guests some breathing space. They would need it.

The Saints reshuffle had seen Junior Morias sent on for Obika with 13 minutes remaining and he finally found the net in injury time, but it was too late.

Given St Mirren’s superiority it’s unlikely it could even be described as a consolation.

St Mirren: Hladky, P McGinn, MacKenzie, McLoughlin, Waters, Flynn (McAllister 77), McGinn, Foley, Durmus (Mullen 65), Magennis, Obika (Morias 77). Unused subs: Cooke, Djorkaeff, MacPherson, Lyness.

Hibs: Maxwell, Naismith, Porteous, Hanlon, Stevenson, Slivka, Hallberg, Newell (Horgan 56), Allan (Mallan 71), Doidge, Kamberi (Boyle 50). Unused subs: Marciano, James, Jackson, Shaw.