St Mirren 2-0 Hibernian
St Mirren held their nerve to earn a victory that hauls Hibernian into the midst of the play-off battle.
Kenny McLean caught the visitors cold with a goal in only 12 seconds then Paul McGowan added a second.
Jim Goodwin's dismissal offered a glimmer of hope for Hibs, but Terry Butcher's side did not have the wherewithal to capitalise.
In the end, St Mirren were resolute and professional enough to see out the victory.
But it was also further evidence of the decline of Hibs, who were bereft.
The visitors' fragilities were immediately exposed. Straight from kick-off, St Mirren struck out for the vulnerabilities of their opponents when a straight up-field ball was deftly headed down by Steven Thompson into McLean's path.
With admirable composure, the midfielder drilled a shot beyond Ben Williams and, with only 12 seconds having been played, Hibs were faced with the full extent of their pessimism.
In the way that Thompson showed the strength and determination to win the ball, and that nobody tracked the run of McLean, it was possible to see clearly the deficiencies of Butcher's side.
Hibs had to find a way to redeem their season, but instead they could only look on haplessly at their hosts' confident assurance.
St Mirren were not inhibited by the game's significance, rising instead to the opportunity to gain the momentum that might carry them from danger.
There were some glimpses of aplomb to some of their touches, but it was enough to be dynamic against a Hibs defence that was capable of being riven with doubt and fecklessness.
Jordon Forster ought to have cleared the ball rather than carry it out at his feet and he was robbed by McLean, who then slid a pass through to McGowan. He shot, quickly and assuredly, into the far corner.
St Mirren had, through their own conviction and the lacklustre nature of Hibs' display, taken command of the game but also perhaps of their own destiny.
They have their own flaws, though, and one flashed to the surface when Goodwin recklessly and needlessly left his foot in after being beaten to the ball by Kervin Thomson.
The late challenge, in the 29th minute, seemed to leave a bloody mark on Thomson's knee and it led referee Kevin Clancy to show Goodwin the red card.
Hibs ought to have taken advantage of having the extra man, but the team lacks the confidence or the fluency to create clear-cut chances.
There was anger from the away support, and exasperation from Butcher on the touchline, but the best Hibs could muster was a long-range shot from Sam Stanton that Christopher Dilo saved - and another Stanton effort that he scooped over the bar from close range.
Little changed after the interval, other than Hibs enjoying even more of the possession.
Still, though, they lacked the ideas or the ability to break down some doughty St Mirren defending.
Kyle McAusland sliced over his own crossbar, Owain Tudur Jones was one of a number of Hibs players to head tamely at Williams, and Duncan Watmore shot over.
Recovery was beyond Hibs, though, and they are now a team nearing crisis point.
- 14McAuslandBooked at 35mins
- 6GoodwinBooked at 30mins
- 9ThompsonSubstituted forWyldeat 75'minutes
- 10McGowanSubstituted forMagennisat 55'minutes
- 7McGinnSubstituted forTealeat 90+1'minutes
- 2van Zanten
- 17Tudur JonesBooked at 55minsSubstituted forWatmoreat 70'minutes
- 23ForsterBooked at 90mins
- 38ThomsonBooked at 68mins
- 14CollinsSubstituted forCummingsat 57'minutes
- Kevin Clancy
- Shots on Target