By Craig Turnbull
Anthony Stokes marked his return to Hibs with a goal as Alan Stubbs’ side swept aside St Mirren to go two points behind league leaders Rangers.
Stokes, on loan from Celtic, came off the bench to round off a thoroughly satisfying day for Hibs, prodding home from close range after good play by another substitute James Keatings.
Hibs had looked comfortable in this match as Liam Henderson and John McGinn – playing his former side – had put them 2-0 up but Stevie Mallan breathed life into Saints with a terrific free kick before the break.
Stokes came on to rapturous applause and netted on his second debut and Hibs now go into high spirits against St Johnstone in Scottish League Cup semi-final next week.
Henderson’s performance last week coming off the bench to change the game against Falkirk earned him a start in this match.
And it was masterstroke from Stubbs as it was the Celtic loanee who gave Hibs the lead with a stunning free kick from about 25 yards.
For Hibs’ dominance they were given a scare as Lawrence Shankland dragged an effort wide before Cummings missed a great opportunity one-on-one with Langfield but the goalkeeper emerged victorious.
Hibs doubled their advantage shortly before half-time when Cummings played in McGinn who demonstrated great composure before applying a tidy finish past Langfield.
Mallan handed Saints a lifeline almost instantly curling a lovely free kick into the bottom corner away from Mark Oxley.
Hibs continued to control the second half and were unlucky not to add to their lead after efforts from Hanlon and McGinn were both cleared off the line.
Stokes came on to a rapturous applause with under 20 minutes to go and marked his return with a goal after great play by Keatings.