Bookings seem to come Jim Goodwin's way with such rampant regularity, he might as well change his name to 'the box office'.
St Mirren were just the ticket on Saturday, with a industrious, inventive display which earned them the points and the plaudits at Easter Road, but there was little in the way of goodwill for Goodwin as the Irishman picked up his now obligatory yellow card.
Danny Lennon, the St Mirren manager who swiftly substituted his skipper to spare him from any further card-waving, later expressed his "fear" for Goodwin's career and the rough reputation that precedes him. With 11 bookings from 22 games this season, as well as his well-documented two-match ban for clattering Dundee United's Stuart Armstrong with a flailing forearm on Boxing Day, Goodwin is hardly a saint. Last season, his crash, bang, wallop approach brought him 14 yellow cards and two reds.
Loading article content
He may be public enemy No.1 in the eyes of opposition supporters but the St Mirren players are rallying round. "It's very unfair on Jim," said John McGinn, who played a key role in an impressive triumph for Lennon's troops. "You can see from the very first minute that the fans are on his case and maybe that does swing the ref's mind a wee bit. Jim gets treated unfairly compared to the other players.
"That puts the team at risk and it's not Jim's fault so it's very harsh and he needs to be treated with more leniency. Jim gets treated differently to the other players and that has to be brought up and challenged. If I made a tackle and Jim made the same one I might not get booked but he will."
McGinn was heavily involved as St Mirren made some major capital gains with a rampant first-half display during which his side were three goals to the good before the half-hour mark. The 19-year-old's tidy lay off in the box set up Adam Campbell to score the Paisley side's second goal and illustrated perfectly St Mirren's slick, incisive sense of adventure during a thoroughly dominant 45-minute spell. After three defeats on the trot, the visitors had a few points to prove.
Having survived a late Hibernian flurry, the three points were just reward for St Mirren's admirable efforts. Following the meek surrender to St Johnstone the previous weekend, the Jekyll & Hyde element to St Mirren's season continued on Saturday.
"Three defeats in a row isn't good enough no matter who you are and what you're trying to achieve," added McGinn. "It's frustrating that we can play like this after the way we played last week. We're frustrated in the dressing room. I know that sounds terrible but we're frustrated that we didn't kick on and score more goals and instead we conceded a couple and ended up on the back foot."
There were a few hearty sighs of relief when the final whistle sounded and no-one puffed their cheeks with a release of anxiety more than Campbell. His handball in the last knockings should have earned him a "contract with a volleyball team" according to Terry Butcher, the Hibs manager, but referee Willie Collum waved away the roars for a penalty.
"It was totally accidental," said the teenager, who is on loan from Newcastle United. "The ball took a dodgy bounce and unfortunately it hit my arm but the referee made the right decision. There was no intent there at all so it would have been a very harsh penalty.
"I was certainly worried but thankfully the referee called it right and we can move on. Hopefully, that's us turned the corner and we can now push on for the rest of the season."
St Mirren certainly pushed on in the early stages of this match and trampled their lacklustre hosts into the ground with a performance of pace, purpose and movement which had the Hibs defenders scurrying around in a frightful haste. Paul McGowan's early shot deflected in off Ben Williams, before Campbell inspired a devastating double-whammy. His goal was duly added to by Steven Thompson.
Hibernian picked themselves up off the floor with a James Collins brace in an improved second half but the damage had been done.