The day started off with Irvine Welsh entertaining fans in the Gallery Restaurant with a reading from his book ‘Filth’ ahead of the release of the film of the same name this week. He then took part in a question and answer session before taking his seat in the Upper West Stand to watch the game.
As a reward he was allowed to select the ‘Man of the Match’ however few of the crowd envied him that task as any one of Pat Fenlon’s men could have been chosen; such was the quality of the team performance.
The ‘glass half empty’ brigade will no-doubt cite the poor opposition and the fact that the score was only 2-0, but make no mistake, this was the best performance seen at Easter Road in many a long day, made even sweeter by the fact that once again, for the second week running the goals came from the strikers James Collins and Paul Heffernan.
Earlier in the week Pat Fenlon backed under-fire Saints’ boss Danny Lennon to turn things round, but hopes that the Buddies’ revival wouldn’t take place this weekend were granted, as Hibs dominated from start to finish and left the field to a well-deserved standing ovation from the long suffering fans.
Former Bohs’ boss Fenlon kept faith with the same starting XI from last weekend’s win away at St Johnstone with new fans’ favourite Abdellah Zoubir remaining on the bench alongside James McPake and Rowan Vine.
Hibs stared brightly and almost grabbed the lead when a well-struck effort from Liam Craig went narrowly past the post, but the breakthrough was only delayed a few minutes.
In the ninth minute, David Van Zanten fouled Heffernan near the half way line, and Kevin Thomson sent a floated free kick into the area which was knocked down by Michael Nelson into the path of James Collins who stooped down to direct his header into the net.
Hibs continued to attack and played some fantastic one touch stuff creating chance after chance as the Buddies struggled to get possession.
Collins then went close with a sensational turn and shot which went inches over the top left hand corner of the goal, then only a last-ditch tackle from Marc McAusland prevented Heffernan getting onto the end of a superb Kevin Thomson’s through ball and racing in on goal.
With half time approaching when Heffernan collected Lewis Stevenson’s cut-back and brought out a great save from the Saints’ teenage keeper who turned the ball round the post by his fingertips. He then produced another fine save to deny Scott Robertson in time added on.
St Mirren produced their best move of the day just after the break, but the excellent Alan Maybury produced a fantastic block to deny Steven Thompson after a mix up between Craig and Thomson just outside the box.
Two minutes later Hibs almost doubled their advantage when Thomson intercepted a throw out then found Heffernan who set up Craig, but the keeper redeemed himself with a fine save,
Referee Steven McLean then earned the fury of the Hibs’ fans by not booking Danny Grainger for a bad tackle of Scott Robertson, then, after giving the former Hearts defender a last warning, ignored his next foul on Collins.
Hibs grabbed their second goal after 60 minutes when Robertson slipped in Alan Maybury on the right and his powerfully driven cross was turned into the net by Heffernan from four yards to the delight of the Easter Road faithful.
St Mirren then had a short spell of possession without troubling Williams before Robertson intercepted a Goodwin pass finding himself clean through on goal, however Heffernan who was standing in an offside position took a touch and the chance was lost.
In the 69th minute, Collins had the ball into the net again, but his effort was ruled offside, then moments later Craig was through on goal only for McAusland to produce a last-gasp challenge to block his effort.
Eight minutes later, Heffernan did well to close down Dilo and forced the goalkeeper into rushing his clearance which fell for Craig who immediately returned the ball towards goal from 45 yards. Dilo rushed backwards and produced an acrobatic save to deny Hibs a third goal.
With 10 minutes remaining, Abdellah Zoubir then replaced Collins and was welcomed by a loud roar from the fans, and Sam Stanton took over from the industrious Tom Taiwo.
Both players made an impact, particularly Zoubir who went on several mazy runs to the delight of the supporters, then in the closing moments Danny Grainger who had been booed throughout picked up a stupid second yellow card and was sent off.
The news that Ross County had scored two late goals to beat Hearts in Dingwall was greeted with a cheer from both sets of fans.
The win moved Hibs into 5th place with 11 points from 7 games.
Afterwards a beaming Fenlon said: “I’m delighted. I thought it was a real team performance. We were very solid and created some good chances with some good football.
“All footballers are the same. If you win games, you gain some confidence and momentum and it just breeds from there. You can see it in training every day. All we have done is transferred that from the training pitch to here.
“You can’t buy confidence. It’s about working through the hard days, which we certainly had at the start of the season. It’s about believing what you are doing is right and being bold and brave to say we will get it right.”
Hibs take on Stranraer at Easter Road in Tuesday night and Fenlon will have the dilemma of whether to change the team to give some of the squad players a game.
PS Irvine Welsh eventually picked Liam Craig as his ‘Man of the Match.’
Hibs: Williams, Hanlon, Nelson, Robertson, Craig, Collins (Zoubir 82′), Stevenson, Maybury, Taiwo (Stanton 82′), Heffernan (Vine 88′), Thomson. Subs not used: Murdoch, McGivern, McPake, Caldwell.
St Mirren: Dilo, McAusland, Goodwin, McGowan (McGinn 90′), Thompson, Newton, van Zanten (Bahoken 66′), Grainger, Harkins (Caprice 62′), McLean, Teale. Subs not used: Cornell, Reilly, McGregor, Mair.
Referee: Steven McLean.