Swaggering Hibs outclass St Mirren to move into third place as VAR plays a role at Easter Road
Hibs moved into third place in the cinch Premiership after a comprehensive 3-0 victory over St Mirren at Easter Road.
Martin Boyle opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Mykola Kuharevich and Ewan Henderson netted in the second half to kill the game as a contest.
The victory sees Lee Johnson’s men leap above their visitors and Aberdeen – who lost at Rangers – to move into sole possession of the coveted third-place in this season’s top flight.
Johnson made two changes to the side that lost last week to St Johnstone with Henderson and Nohan Kenneh coming in for the suspended Kyle Magennis and Josh Campbell, who dropped to the bench.
It was almost the perfect start for the Hibees, who had the ball in the back of the net within six minutes. Joe Newell released Marijan Cabraja down the left wing with an excellent pass. The Croatian then laid it on a plate for Kuharevich to side-foot into a partially guarded net from close range. The home support joyfully celebrated what they thought was the opener, only for those cheers to turn to grumbles as VAR disallowed the goal for offside on Cabraja.
Newell was at it again moments later with a cross to the back post for Ryan Porteous to side-foot a volley wide of the far post.
St Mirren hadn’t shown much life in the early exchanges but they were unfortunate not to be ahead on 16 minutes. David Marshall made a terrific low save to tip Jonah Ayunga’s shot wide for a corner.
It was then opposite No.1 Trevor Carson’s turn to be the hero. He made an impressively robust stop to deny Boyle’s powerful first-time effort at the far post.
Henderson should have done better on a counter after being played through by Boyle, while Boyle was culpable a minute later as he took too heavy a touch from Henderson’s pass.
The game then went into an extended lull before further VAR intervention brought it back to life in first-half stoppage time. Initially referee Don Robertson wasn’t going to give a penalty for a handball by Richard Tait in blocking Chris Cadden’s effort, but after consulting with the replay screen the whistler pointed to the spot. Boyle stepped up and tucked it away.
Before the second period had really got started there was a blow for Hibs with their goalscorer and talisman limping off to be replaced by Elias Melkersen. The substitute played a role in the next chance, knocking down for Henderson to blaze over. Henderson was involved again five minutes later, clipping a pass for Newell to lay across for Kuharevich, though he could only stab his effort wide.
The big Ukrainian had impressed in attack and he managed to get the all-important second. It was mostly of his own making as he out-muscled ex-Hibee Alex Gogic to get on to Henderson’s through ball before composing himself and wrapping his shot past Carson.
It was 3-0 on 67 minutes as Henderson marked his reintroduction to the starting XI with a goal. Fellow returnee Kenneh deserves credit for some excellent work in the build-up and when Melkersen’s attempt was deflected into the path of Henderson he made no mistake with a top-quality finish into the roof of the net from 18 yards.