Doidge at the treble as managerless Hibs finally fire
Hibernian shrugged off the departure of manager Paul Heckingbottom to register their first Premiership victory in over three months thanks to a Christian Doidge hat-trick in a 4-1 win at St Johnstone.
With Eddie May, the club’s head of player development, at the helm, the Easter Road outfit eased past St Johnstone to win for the first time in the league since the opening day of the campaign against St Mirren.
A first-half double from Doidge, who notched in the league for the first time, gave the visitors the belief that had been sorely missing before Heckingbottom was sacked on Monday.
Scott Allan drove in a third shortly after the break and Doidge completed his treble just short of the hour mark.
Stevie May struck in the final minute as Saints, whose manager Tommy Wright has been linked with the vacant Northern Ireland job, at least kept going right to the end.
The defeat consigns the Perth side to second bottom spot in the table, whilst Hibs move up to eighth.
The visitors could not have dreamed of a better start as they took the lead after just a minute.
On the break, Florian Kamberi got the better of home skipper Jason Kerr, who slipped. The Swiss striker unselfishly picked out his strike partner and, after his first effort was repelled by keeper Zander Clark, Doidge buried the rebound.
The early goal sent confidence coursing through the visitors and they came within a whisker of a second in the seventh minute.
Joe Newell departed his left midfield beat and found space to curl a left-foot effort from the right edge of the box off Clark’s right-hand upright.
Right-back Jason Naismith then drilled a shot over the bar after a sumptuous flick from Scott Allan as Hibs continued to push forward.
And they got the reward of a second goal after just 16 minutes.
Kamberi was again the provider, bamboozling Scott Tanser on the right side of the box before firing over a low centre that Doidge only had to touch into the net from two yards out.
St Johnstone rallied and tested out a Hibs rearguard that has been prone to leaking avoidable goals this season.
However, the Easter Road side could have put the game to bed before the half-hour mark when Doidge slipped trying to convert Naismith’s 29th-minute cross.
They did not have long after the interval to wait for the third goal they wanted.
Allan pounced on a loose pass on the half-way line and, using the decoy runs of Doidge and Kamberi on either side, made a beeline for the penalty box.
His eventual left-foot shot arrowed into the far corner of the net to put Hibs out of sight.
Kamberi then had a shot saved before Doidge completed his hat-trick in the 59th minute.
Naismith’s fantastic cross from the right was perfect for the striker and he rose highest to bullet in his header from six yards out.
The capital side would have been annoyed not to have held out for a clean sheet, however, as St Johnstone scored a late counter.
Anthony Ralston drove in a low cross from the right and May got the deftest of touches as the ball squirmed past the diving Chris Maxwell.