HIBERNIAN halted St Mirren’s laudable unbeaten run courtesy of a moment of magic from Kevin Nisbet. However, the victory came at a cost ahead of their onerous Boxing Day trip to Ibrox.

Nisbet’s sumptuous curling effort in the first period proved enough to secure all three points, with the prolific marksman taking his tally for the campaign to 12 and sending the capital club above Aberdeen into third place in the Premiership.

But his strike-partner, Christian Doidge, was dismissed in the closing stages of the contest after receiving two bookings in the space of three minutes, meaning the towering Welshman will miss Saturday’s encounter against Rangers.

He is likely to be joined on the sidelines by Ofir Marciano after the Easter Road number one was withdrawn early in the second half due to a hamstring strain.

St Mirren also finished a fiery contest with 10 men after Brandon Mason was given his marching orders by referee Steven Kirkland.

“Ofir had a bit of tightness in his hamstring at half-time so we knew we would have to potentially make that change,” said Hibs boss Jack Ross.

“We’ll see how he recovers over the next day or so but we’ll not take any chances on Boxing Day.

“I have absolutely no fears about Dillon Barnes playing on Boxing Day, if required.”

Addressing Doidge’s impending absence, Ross added: “I would much rather have him but we’ve got to find a way to win at Ibrox.

"At this stage of the season you accept that you need to adjust your plans for injury or suspension.”

Despite a confident, compact start from the in-form visitors, Hibs claimed an early advantage due to the industry of Joe Newell and Martin Boyle, allied with the brilliance of Nisbet.

Newell threaded a wonderful pass to Boyle, allowing the Australia internationalist to surge forward and slip a pass to Nisbet. From the edge of the box, the prolific marksman did the rest, finding the top-corner with a lovely curling effort.

“Kevin has the ability to score all types of goals and has shown that,” lauded Ross. “It’s a wonderful finish.”

Former St Mirren captain Kyle Magennis, emboldened by opening his Hibs account against Dundee United at the weekend, fizzed an effort narrowly over the bar as the hosts sought to double their advantage.

A stinging drive from Boyle then warmed the palms of Alnwick on a bitter night in Leith.

The Hibees passed up a glorious advantage to afford themselves breathing space on the cusp of half-time. Once more, Newell was pivotal as he sent Boyle scampering down the right with a quick free-kick. The winger’s low cross found Porteous but his effort was deflected wide from point-blank range.

Magennis’ reunion with his old club was short and not so sweet, with the combative midfielder replaced by Drey Wright at the break. St Mirren also made an alteration, with Ilkay Durmus coming on for Tait. And the Turkish winger wasted a wonderful opportunity to make an immediate impact when he contrived to head wide of the post from six yards after meeting a fine MacPherson delivery.

However, Hibs were dealt a severe blow - both immediate and potentially for the sequence of matches to come, starting with Rangers on Boxing Day - when Marciano fell to the turf with no-one near him. He was swiftly replaced by Dillion Barnes, with the on-loan QPR keeper making his Premiership debut.

Nisbet’s goal touch temporarily deserted him when he met a cross-cum-shot by Drey Wright, with the ex-Dunfermline and Raith Rovers attacker firing into the side-netting from close-range.

St Mirren’s hopes of making Hibs pay for that miss were wrecked when Mason was shown a second yellow card by referee Kirkland for hauling down Boyle. But there was time for one final twist to the tale, with Doidge receiving two cautions in the space of three minutes following tussles with Jon Obika and Ethan Erhahon.

“The overriding feeling is frustration and disappointment because I didn’t think there was a great deal between the teams,” added St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin. "I thought the game lacked a bit of quality, especially in the final third.

“The only bit of quality was young Nisbet’s finish.”