Three things we learned from Hibs 1 - 0 St Mirren
Analysis from Easter Road as Paul Heckingbottom's side leave it late but ultimately claim three points in their Ladbrokes Premiership opener.
St Mirren were set up to frustrate - and boy they did!
The visitors looked like lambs to the slaughter coming into this one. While they'd managed to quickly bring in four new additions in the week leading up to the Ladbrokes Premiership opener, a turbulent, messy pre-season - combined with a dreadful Betfred Cup campaign - indicated there'd be only one winner from this one. Though that's how it panned out, the visitors will feel a little unfortunate to have left with nothing after frustrating the life out of the hosts, not to mention the Easter Road crowd, for 84 minutes. Setting up in a narrow 4-4-1-1, St Mirren were able to stifle Hibs' best route of creativity through the centre of the park. Happy to allow the wide players time on the ball, they gambled on Hibs not having enough quality in those areas to hurt them. Additionally, the pressure put on Josh Vela and Stevie Mallan at the base of the midfield meant the hosts weren't always able to work it into talisman Scott Allan as often as they would've liked. It was a gameplan that worked, even if it didn't give them the three points.
Heckingbottom used his squad and tactical flexibility
Paul Heckingbottom deserves credit for a pro-active change which helped his side get the victory. Seeing that there was little chance of Hibs breaking through the resistance, he altered the shape to a narrow 4-4-2 with Allan drifting inside from the right flank, and introduced Christian Doidge as a second striker along with Vykintas Slivka to provide more energy in the midfield. While Doidge will be remembered for the three chances he missed, his introduction lifted the performance of Hibs and enabled them to get the win. With two forwards on the park who could hold up possession, it created more space for Allan to perform his magic. The attacking trio should have combined for a goal when a terrific bit of movement from the front two allowed Allan to play Florian Kamberi in, only for both strikers to miss great chances inside the area. They wouldn't have to wait for long, though, as Allan showed his class with a strong run and composed finish after being found by Doidge.
Scott Allan doesn't look like someone who's missed an entire year
If there was any trepidation that Allan wouldn't return to the club for a third time and pick up exactly where he left off, due to his enforced period on the sidelines by previous club Celtic, where he bizarrely sat in the stands for a year, then it was wiped away on his home league debut. The midfielder always looked the player most likely to make things happen and it was of no surprise to anyone in Easter Road that he was ultimately the match-winner. Indeed, the only potential negative you could take away from his performance could be a perceived over-reliance on the player to make things tick for Heckingbottom's side.