St Mirren 1-1 Hibs: Campbell's first goal for club cancelled out
Josh Campbell’s first goal for the club almost gave caretaker boss David Gray a perfect start, only for an equaliser in the 87th minute to quash hopes that the departure of Jack Ross would bring about an instant bounce for Hibs.
A break of the ball is what Hibs have been waiting on for many weeks, and that’s exactly what happened to give Campbell his chance to score seven minutes after half time.
The 21-year-old midfielder, who has forced his way into the team and earned a new contract during a wretched run of results, was worthy of a goal for the perseverance and energy he has delivered during a difficult period for the club.
He is the future and his goal felt like it could be a turning point. Not just in the match, but the season.
In the end, Hibs could not hold out. More points were dropped. The tally is now five from a possible 30.
Gray’s men were asked to be resilient after Campbell’s strike, Matt Macey making one fine stop to deny Curtis Main.
But tiredness, understandably after such a physically and emotionally draining week, started to set it as the game wore on.
Saints captain Joe Shaughnessy appeared to be unmarked when he popped up just eight yards from goal to smash home Scott Tanser’s wicked low cross from the left with just three minutes on the clock.
It was a sore one for Gray, who had made two notable changes in his first match in charge as caretaker manager.
Handing Joe Newell the captain’s armband in the absence of suspended skipper Hanlon was the first. Dropping Josh Doig for Lewis Stevenson was the second.
It meant Hibs lined up with a new-look back four of fit-again Chris Cadden, Ryan Porteous, Darren McGregor and Stevenson. Alex Gogic came into the centre of midfield for the injured Doyle-Hayes.
The changes didn’t do any harm in a largely uneventful first half, both teams by and large cancelling each other out.
Hibs were never really under threat, but rarely looked like scoring themselves.
The first 45 minutes was better than the last 75 minutes of Wednesday’s meltdown at Livingston, but it could hardly have been worse.
Jamie Murphy, bright down the left flank, had a shot parried for a corner and Kevin Nisbet lacked conviction with a free header, from Martin Boyle’s cross, which flopped harmlessly into St Mirren keeper Jak Alnwick’s palms.
The intensity picked up immediately after half time, Hibs sweeping forward on a counter-attack from one end of the pitch to the other to go in front. Murphy played in Boyle, whose shot was blocked, and Campbell slotted home the loose ball from six yards.
The goal gave Hibs an extra spring in their step, both in defence in attack. The determination to grab three points for the team was demonstrated by a sliding tackle from Nisbet on the touchline which cleaned out Saints boss Jim Goodwin.
It looked like the manager in the other dugout was going to be the fall guy for a change. But as the minutes ticked by it was Goodwin who had the last laugh.
St Mirren: Alnwick; Shaughnessy, Dunne, Fraser, Millar (McAllister 65), Flynn (Dennis 65), Power, Tanser, McGrath, Kiltie (Ronan 61), Main. Subs not used: Tait, Erhahon, Erwin, Lyness.
Hibernian: Macey; Cadden, McGregor, Porteous, Stevenson; Gogic, Newell; Boyle, Campbell, Murphy (Wright 72); Nisbet (Doidge 83). Subs not used: Doig, Doidge, Gullan, Dabrowski, Allan, Scott.
Referee: Kevin Clancy.
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