By: Hibernian FC on 13 Sep, 2020 09:18
Hibernian maintained their perfect away record in this season’s Premiership with a convincing 3-0 win at St Mirren.
Goals from Kevin Nisbet, Joe Newell and Martin Boyle ensured it was a comfortable afternoon for Jack Ross on his return to Paisley.
The Hibs boss had been able to call on the services of Alex Gogic and Nisbet once again and it was no surprise to see both return to the starting XI. New signing Dillon Barnes was amongst the substitutes, whilst Scott Allan missed out through injury.
Most of the pre-match talk surrounded St Mirren’s goalkeeping problems. With Jak Alnwick, Dean Lyness and Peter Urminsky all sidelined due to covid-19 restrictions, the Paisley men snapped up Zdenek Zlamal on an emergency loan from Heart of Midlothian just hours before kick-off.
The on-loan stopper hadn’t played competitively since featuring in Hearts’ decisive defeat to the Buddies back in March and his lack of match sharpness was evident as he endured a torrid afternoon between the posts.
As early as the 10th minute he was caught in no-man’s land as Boyle collected a through-ball from Nisbet. The winger knocked it beyond the advancing goalkeeper, however his heavy touch took it wide of goal.
Hibernian’s promising early play was rewarded with the game’s opening goal after 13 minutes. Boyle fed the ball down the right flank to Paul McGinn and his low, driven cross was turned in by Nisbet just in front of goal with Zlamal allowing the effort to trickle in under his arm.
Three minutes later Hibs extended their lead when Boyle picked out Newell with a cut back and from the edge of the box the Englishman guided his shot into the far corner of the net for his first Scottish Premiership goal.
St Mirren were toiling to cope with the pace and movement of the Hibernian players in the final third and the Easter Road men went close to netting again when youngster Josh Doig peeled off the left flank and let fly with a right-foot strike that was deflected wide for a corner kick.
It had been an impressive start from Hibs, however as the first half progressed St Mirren began to gain a foothold and exert pressure of their own.
The home team should have been awarded a spot-kick when Ryan Porteous was guilty of handling the ball inside his penalty box, however it was missed by the match officials and Hibs fortunately got away with it.
Moments later a St Mirren corner was partially cleared by Porteous to Nathan Sheron on the edge of the penalty box and his first-time strike was just over the crossbar.
It then took a stunning double save from Ofir Marciano to preserve Hibs two-goal lead. First, he dived to beat away a fine free-kick from Ilkay Durmas before quickly getting back to his feet to deny Sheron from point-blank range.
Having weathered the storm Hibs went close to extending their lead in the closing seconds of the half when Doig collected Newell’s ball in behind on the left, the youngster tried to set up Christian Doidge with a cut-back only for a last-gasp block to deny him.
Hibs had another terrific opportunity almost immediately after the break when Sam Foley sliced a clearance high into the air and Nisbet pounced to race through on goal. The striker attempted to lob Zlamal but could not get enough lift on his effort and the goalkeeper saved.
Jim Goodwin had earlier made a half-time change and brought on Lee Erwin in an attempt to change his team’s on-field fortunes. The former Motherwell man had an early opportunity however his rising effort on the break was high and wide of the target.
Yet, it was to get worse for the hosts as Hibs added a third goal in 58 minutes when Zlamal failed to collect a deep cross from Newell and Boyle headed into the unguarded net at the back post to kill the game as a contest.
If Zlamal had not covered himself in glory at Boyle’s goal, he attempted to make up for it with a terrific save to deny the Australian international just moments later. Boyle’s rasping shot on the angle was heading into the far corner of the net before the goalkeeper threw himself down to push it away from goal.
Marciano did not have much to do in Hibs goal during the second period, yet when called upon he showed his quality. With six minutes remaining he produced a fine save to keep out Cameron MacPherson’s powerful strike and preserve his clean sheet.
Hibernian comfortably saw out the match and were able to hand youngster Ryan Shanley his competitive debut in the closing stages.
Victory ensured Hibernian remain second in the Scottish Premiership, just three points behind league leaders Rangers, whom they face next weekend at Easter Road Stadium.
St Mirren: Zlamal, Tait, McCarthy, Fraser, Sheron (McAllister 59), Erhahon, Foley, McGrath (MacPherson 82), Durmus (Connolly 59), Dennis (Erwin 46), Obika (Morais 87). Unused substitutes: Langfield, Jamieson.
Hibernian: Marciano, McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon, Doig, Boyle (Shanley 87), Gogic, Newell (Mallan 87), Murphy (Wright 81), Doidge, Nisbet (Gullan 77). Unused substitutes: Barnes, Gray, McGregor, Stevenson, Hallberg.
Referee: Willie Collum.
Report: Richard Payne.
Image: Alan Rennie.