Hibs fan Matty Fairnie, founder of the Longbangers podcast, reflects on the St Mirren cup win, looks ahead to the return of league football against Dundee, and hails the change in mood at the club

Easter Road couldn’t have been described as ‘bursting at the seams’ for Wednesday night’s Viaplay Cup clash between Hibs and St Mirren, but those that braved the threat of Storm Agnes were treated to a six-goal thriller as Hibs romped to victory against a Buddies side who are riding high.

Both sides came into the clash full of confidence, the Buddies - who comfortably tucked Hearts away at the weekend - are sitting in second place in the Premiership, unbeaten in the league this season with a 3-2 win at Easter Road on the opening day of the campaign the start of that run.

Hibs, too, were confident. Since Lee Johnson’s departure, the Hibees are unbeaten in domestic matches, and on an evening where strong winds and lashing rain threatened to cause havoc, it was Hibs that blew St Mirren away. 

There weren’t many surprises in Nick Montgomery’s starting line-up, Elie Youan stepped back in at the expense of Jair Tavares, while Christian Doidge took over from Adam Le Fondre. This looks close to Montgomery’s strongest eleven, and the 442 formation seems to suit the team well. There is more structure to the defence than we saw under Johnson, while Jimmy Jeggo has been a revelation as the ball-winner in the middle of the park, nicely complimenting Joe Newell’s all-action style.

It is the front four, however, that really catches the eye. A sparkling second-half performance against St Johnstone gave a glimpse of what the forward line of Youan, Boyle, Vente, and Le Fondre / Doidge, are capable.

St Johnstone managed to restrict Hibs to just two goals on Saturday, though Hibs’ attacking play undoubtedly deserved more. St Mirren weren’t so fortunate. Four second-half goals saw Hibs come from behind to seal their place in the semi-final draw. Youan opened the scoring, prodding home a Will Fish header from Boyle’s corner just after half time, and moments later the incredibly efficient Dylan Vente made it two. Collecting the ball in the St Mirren box from Lewis Miller's cross, the Dutch striker took a touch before swivelling and placing the ball past Zach Hemming in the St Mirren goal.

Vente has scored from all of his last five shots on goal. He’s quickly becoming a fans’ favourite with the Hibs support, and while his goals will get the headlines, his all round play over the last two games has been terrific. A selfless runner off the ball, Vente has contributed as much as anyone to the recent lift in form, and it looks like the reported £700k transfer fee is going to be great value for Hibs.

The game didn’t all go Hibs’ way, though. St Mirren took the lead late in the first half, and then with the game slipping away from them following Vente’s goal, they found a way back into the match.

Montgomery raised a few eyebrows with a triple substitution on 74 minutes. Youan, Vente, and Bushiri made way for Rory Whittaker, Josh Campbell, and Paul Hanlon respectively, and two minutes later a mistake from Whittaker, making only his second senior appearance, let St Mirren in and Baccus capitalised with a neat finish that left David Marshall helpless.

I will be the first to admit that I thought Montgomery had got the substitutions wrong. I felt that the game was too fast and physical, and St Mirren too strong a side, to throw Whittaker in, and with two of our main attacking threats in Vente and Youan out of action, I couldn’t see where the goals would come from to swing the momentum back in Hibs’ favour once St Mirren had equalised.

In fact, I had literally just finished saying the words “I can’t see where our goals are coming from” as Martin Boyle fired a shot in off the underside of the crossbar to put Hibs back in front, much to the amusement of those around me.

That goal owed much to young Whittaker, his driving run from midfield to feed Josh Campbell was excellent. It would have been easy for Whittaker to take the easy option and play a safe pass given his role in St Mirren’s equaliser, but he showed tremendous tenacity and bravery to get on the ball and affect the play.

Boyle’s goal was crucial, as St Mirren were forced to throw everything at Hibs in search of another equaliser, and this meant that they were left susceptible to Hibs’ searing pace on the counter attack.

Having seen one great chance blocked by Hemming, Boyle had a second bite of the cherry deep into injury time, and this time Hibs’ talisman made no mistake. His second of the night was the cue for the visiting fans to head for the exits, for a wet and windy trip back to Paisley.

Hibs were rewarded for their efforts with a semi-final draw that sees them face Aberdeen. Before that, though, Hibs take on Dundee at Easter Road on Saturday as they round off a week of three home ties. With two wins already secured, Hibs will be focussed on completing the set against a Dundee side who have so far enjoyed a mixed bag of results since returning to the top flight this season. A notable win against Hearts and draws against St Johnstone, Kilmarnock, and Motherwell have put them in ninth place in the league table.

The mood has certainly shifted at Easter Road, and Hibs will be roared on by a bigger crowd than the one which was treated to Wednesday’s thriller, with the Easter Road faithful hoping for a convincing win to set Hibs up nicely for the trip across the city to face Hearts a week later.