Hibs’ slump continued as their run without a victory was extended to seven matches on a night of frustration for the home support at Easter Road.
The Edinburgh club had to come from behind twice against lowly St Mirren to rescue a point through second-half goals from academy graduates Oli Shaw and Ryan Porteous.
Worryingly for Hibs, it was the second time in successive home games that they were unable to defeat one of the league’s bottom two teams after they drew by the same scoreline against bottom-of-the-table Dundee a week past Saturday. They remain eighth in the Premiership, four points outside the top six and seven adrift of the European places ahead of Saturday’s trip to Hamilton Accies.
It came as little surprise that Neil Lennon chose to make as many as five changes to the team that started the 3-0 defeat at Kilmarnock on Saturday. Darren McGregor, Miquel Nelom and Mark Milligan all dropped to the bench, while Steven Whittaker and Paul Hanlon missed out. Greek right-back Charalampos Mavrias was handed his debut, while Lewis Stevenson, Marvin Bartley, Daryl Horgan and Shaw were also added to the team. Hibs lined up in an attack-minded 4-4-2 formation, with stand-in captain Bartley the only defensive player among the front six.
Given the sense of gloom that had descended on Hibs over the past month or so as a result of their grim run of form, they could desperately have done with gaining some early impetus in what was widely deemed their most winnable December fixture.
However, just as they had done at Rugby Park on Saturday, they fell behind in the sixth minute, this time in pretty freakish circumstances. Adam Hamill, who had scored a double in St Mirren’s recent victory over Hearts, spotted Adam Bogdan well off his line and unleashed a shot from just inside his own half which had just enough power, pace and height to sail over the exposed goalkeeper and nestle in the net. The hosts were stunned.
St Mirren, buoyed by this piece of ingenuity from their talismanic attacker, had an unexpected foothold in the game and they set about making life difficult for their beleaguered hosts. Hibs were unable to muster anything immediate in terms of a response and had to wait until the 24th minute for their first notable attempt when Stevie Mallan, playing against his former club, wriggled his way into the box and fired a low angled shot agonisingly wide of Danny Rogers’ left-hand post.
Hibs went close again two minutes later after some slick build-up play sent Horgan clear inside the box. The Irishman chipped the ball across to the far post for Stevenson, who took a touch before his powerful angled half-volley was pushed behind by Rogers.
A frustrating first half for the hosts ended with Shaw sending a tame effort wide from the edge of the box after a good run into the danger area from Horgan. The former Preston North End winger then spurned a chance from close range within seconds of the restart as Hibs started the second half on the front foot. Lennon was forced into his first substitution of the evening in the 49th minute when Bartley suffered a head knock and went off to be replaced by Milligan. The manager made another change in 53 minutes, with Florian Kamberi replaced by Vykintas Slivka. Two minutes later, Hibs equalised as a quickly-taken throw-in released Boyle down the right and the recently-capped Australia attacker burst into the box and delivered a perfect low ball into the centre for Shaw, who knocked it home from a few yards out.
This still wasn’t enough to hand Hibs the initiative, however. In 66 minutes, they fell behind again when Hamill’s inswinging free-kick from the left took a nick off Ambrose and ended up in the net.
In search of another equaliser, Boyle flashed a powerful strike over the top from 25 yards in the 69th minute. The same player then got his timing all wrong as he went to meet a Horgan cross on the edge of the six-yard box a minute later.
However, the hosts didn’t have to wait much longer to draw level again as Porteous rose to head home Mallan’s corner in the 72nd minute. Hibs looked the likelier side to find a winner thereafter as they enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession but they were unable to get themselves a clear sight of goal as St Mirren held firm.
Hibs: Bogdan, Mavrias, Ambrose, Porteous, Stevenson, Boyle, Bartley (Milligan 48), Mallan, Horgan (Maclaren 87), Shaw, Kamberi (Slivka 53). Unused subs: Marciano, Nelom, McGregor, Gullan.
St Mirren: Rogers, P McGinn, Ferdinand, Jones, Hodson, Edwards, S McGinn, Magennis (Willock 58), Erhahon, Hammill, Mullen (Smith 16) (Baird 81). Unused subs: McShane, Lyness, MacPherson, Eckersley.
Referee: E Anderson