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James Scott hits hat-trick as Hibernian end season with convincing win

James Scott hit a hat-trick for Hibernian (Alan Rennie/PA)
James Scott hit a hat-trick for Hibernian (Alan Rennie/PA)

James Scott scored a hat-trick as Hibernian ended a disappointing campaign with a 4-0 victory at home to relegation-threatened St Johnstone.

The on-loan Hull forward has endured a difficult season at Easter Road but his treble against Saints means he can sign off with four goals from his final two games.

The victory was enough for the Easter Road club – who sacked two managers in the last six months – to climb from ninth to eighth.

Hibs caretaker David Gray made two changes to the side who started the 3-1 defeat at Dundee on Tuesday as Darren McGregor and Elias Melkersen came in for Rocky Bushiri and Josh Campbell.

Saints boss Callum Davidson freshened his team up ahead of Friday’s play-off final first leg away to Inverness as he made six alterations to the team who appeared in the 1-0 home victory over Aberdeen in midweek.

The visitors had the first attempt of the game after eight minutes when Jacob Butterfield’s low shot from edge of the box was saved by Matt Macey.

Three minutes later, Hibs threatened as veteran defender McGregor – wearing the captain’s armband in potentially his last game for the club – saw a header from a Ewan Henderson corner saved by Elliot Parish.

Saints attacker Glenn Middleton had shot from outside the box pushed away by Macey in the 17th minute.

The Perth men were on top in the early stages and Cammy MacPherson saw a powerful strike from 25 yards out deflected behind for a corner in the 20th minute.

Hibs went close in the 27th minute when Josh Doig volleyed wide from six yards out after darting in at the back post to meet an inswinging cross from Joe Newell.

The hosts took the lead in first-half stoppage time when McGinn hooked the ball in after Harry Clarke headed on Henderson’s corner.

They extended their advantage just three minutes after the restart as McGinn’s driven cross bounced into the net off team-mate Scott, who seemed to know little about it.

Doig should have added a third for the hosts in the 56th minute but he blasted wide from 10 yards out after Scott cushioned Newell’s cross back into his path.

Hibs did get themselves further in front in the 61st minute when Scott turned in his second of the game from another Newell delivery.

The Edinburgh side were well on top in the second half and they should have notched again in the 73rd minute but Melkersen shot wide of an open goal after Parish parried a Scott effort into his path.

Scott sealed the win – and his hat-trick – with a minute left when he guided home a header from Doig’s cross.