Man of the match
On a day when there were not many standout candidates in green shirts, Ryan Porteous followed up his derby display with another very solid performance and just gets the nod. The centre-back has played well alongside Rocky Bishiri. The match sponsor award went to Chris Mueller and the American deserves pass marks, but he was only the sharpest of a blunt forward line.
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Jak Alnwick’s outstanding point-blank save to deny Ewan Henderson early in the second half was crucial, but the key moment was the mistake which led to the goal. It came from a Hibs throw deep inside their own half, Jake Doyle-Hayes receiving and then being caught in possession against his former club just outside his box. Connor Ronan’s steal and clinical finish was the difference between the teams.
It was more of the same from Hibs under Shaun Maloney. Plenty of possession. Too predictable. Too slow. Lining up 3-4-3, Christian Doidge started off the most advanced striker, with Kevin Nisbet and Chris Mueller in support roles off the front. It didn’t work, with Nisbet dropping deep. The intensity Maloney talked about reproducing after the derby was missing and Jim Goodwin’s well-drilled visitors, lining up 4-3-3, defended comfortably and threatened on the break. Maloney’s half-time introduction of Henderson for Doidge, pushing Nisbet further up as a result, made an instant impact and for 15 minutes Hibs did look threatening. But Saints survived, adapted, scored and then saw the game out. Hibs defended well again, but the cutting edge that’s been missing in attack has yet to be found. Solving that problem must be Maloney’s top priority.
Benefit of hindsight
Hibs have missed a trick by failing to bring in another central midfielder during the January transfer window. Too much is being expected of Josh Campbell. After being handed his first start by Jack Ross in the League Cup semi-final win against Rangers, the youngster went from a fringe player with a handful of sub appearances to a first-team regular. After making a great start, his recent dip in form shouldn’t be a surprise. Hibs, however, are short of options in that area, with Kyle Magennis and now Joe Newell also injured. Sylvester Jasper caught the eye with some flashes of skills when he replaced Campbell for his debut and could perhaps have been introduced earlier than the 68th minute.
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Nisbet’s nutmeg near the corner flag after just 11 minutes was a fleeting moment of magic in an unimaginative, drab first half. Receiving a short pass from Chris Cadden, he performed a pirouette of sorts before cheekily slipping the ball through his marker’s legs with the outside of his right foot. It was sublime skill but in an area of the pitch which ultimately didn’t hurt St Mirren. It came to nothing, summing up the day for Hibs.
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