Story of the match
Returning for a third spell with the Leith club, the talented midfielder marked his permanent move to Hibs with the winning goal in this tightly contested opening day affair. With a highly organised St Mirren side looking up for the contest, the Edinburgh side dominated possession early on while failing to create anything of note. Continued slack passing did little to help the home side, and it was the visitors who came the closest to opening the scoring in the opening 45 minutes, with only a Paul Hanlon tackle denying a Paul McGinn shot on goal.
Clear improvement after half-time
Hibs improved significantly after the re-start, with a stunning curling effort from Allan crashing off the inside of the post, before a Joe Newell header hit the very same post barely sixty seconds later. The Paisley side also carved out chances of their own, however, with Tony Andreu forcing a fine save from Ofir Marciano.
With the game seemingly heading for a stalemate, Allan’s intelligent 85th-minute strike secured the points for Hibs, although Christian Doidge should really have made the points secure soon after. The Welsh striker’s incredible miss from well inside the six-yard box allowed St Mirren one more chance, but with Jonathan Obika’s injury-time effort sailing over the bar, the points stayed at Easter Road.
Takeaways from the match
Have Hibs finally got the real Scott Allan?
Allan’s career thus far has been straight from ‘talented but wayward’ central casting. However, at 27, and clearly at home at Easter Road, Hibs may be the first club to see the real deal on a regular basis. After aborted attempts at launching his career at West Brom and Celtic, Allan is clearly happy in Edinburgh, and may now show both the maturity and consistency to fulfil his obvious potential. A fully focused Allan will surely be an automatic selection for Paul Heckingbottom, while today’s performance can only encourage those who see Allan as a future Scotland squad member. With the midfielder today showing game intelligence, application and most importantly a vital end product, Hibs may well come to depend on him more and more.
Encouragement in defeat for the Buddies
While the Paisley side will be desperately disappointed to have conceded so late, they will not be despondent. Jim Goodwin will not expect away trips to predicted top six finishers to yield many victories and will have taken heart from his side’s battling performance. The Buddies frustrated Hibs for long periods, created chances of their own, and will have taken further heart from the debut performance of Ilkay Durmus, whose penetrating runs were a constant worry for the home side on the left. While a defeat cannot really be taken as a positive, today’s performance certainly can be. A regular repeat of today’s performance and motivation levels throughout the season will leave Goodwin confident of securing SPFL status far earlier (and in far less dramatic fashion) than in 2018/19.
Man of the Match: Scott Allan
An obvious but ultimately unavoidable choice, Allan was far and away today’s stand-out player. Allan was desperately unlucky not to initially open the scoring, but dug-in to finally provide the match-winner and showed excellent vision and commitment throughout. The prospect of the midfielder producing form like this on any sort of regular basis will surely be an exciting prospect for anyone with an interest in Scottish football.