Hibs 4, St Johnstone 0: James Scott bags hat-trick as Hibees sign off on a high
It was a much-changed Saints side, Callum Davidson shaking things up with the McDiarmid Park side contesting the play-offs next weekend, but it was also a much-improved performance from a Hibs side perhaps playing with a little more freedom than previous weeks.
Interim boss David Gray made two changes to his team, including a rare start, and the captain’s armband, for veteran defender Darren McGregor while Elias Melkersen came in for Josh Campbell.
You might well ask where the good fortune from which Hibs benefited in this game has been for the last few months. There was an element of luck about the way the ball fell for McGinn to hook home the first, and a generous slice for Scott’s first, as McGinn’s cross ended up in the net via the striker’s back.
Even the ease with which Joe Newell was able to pick out Scott for the third goal hasn’t been evident much at Easter Road this term – not that the on-loan Hull City striker will have minded much.
Four goals and an assist in his final three games makes his numbers more respectable after a difficult season in front of goal for the 21-year-old but his all-round performances in the final few appearances shouldn’t be overlooked either.
The match began in typical end-of-season fashion, with neither side advancing beyond fairly tame efforts from distance. Matt Macey was called into action to beat away a fierce Glenn Middleton shot but the first real chance fell to Josh Doig, who got on the end of a Newell cross but couldn’t find the target.
Harry Clarke was sent through on goal by Scott but John Mahon produced a big challenge to dig the visitors out of trouble. Shaun Rooney then embarked on a one-man counter-attack following a hastily-cleared corner but Lewis Stevenson put in a last-ditch tackle on the edge of the area.
Then came the opener. Newell’s corner from the left was half-cleared by the Saints defence with Melkersen nodding the ball down for McGinn to hook it past Elliot Parish.
Three minutes after the break Hibs doubled their advantage, McGinn crossing from the right and Scott getting enough on the ball to divert it past Parish.
The hosts kept piling on the pressure and Doig fired wide from a Scott knockdown.
On the hour mark it was three, Clarke holding the ball up well on the left and slipping in Newell whose low cross was turned home by Scott for his second.
With Hibs holding a commanding lead, Gray handed first-team debuts to four under-18 players in Murray Aiken, Jacob Blaney, Robbie Hamilton, and Oscar MacIntyre while Allan Delferriere was also given a first appearance following his January move from Standard Liege.
Davidson also made a couple of changes but as the game looked to be winding down, Doig beat his man on the left and crossed to the back post for Scott, who headed past Parish into the far corner.
Gray signs off with a comprehensive win but questions remain over the identity of the new Easter Road manager, who could be named later this week.