ST MIRREN produced a season's-best performance to topple Championship leaders Hibs on Wednesday night.
A double from full back Stelios ensured a 2-0 win and gave the Paisley side new hope in their battle to beat the drop. Saints are now just five points behind second-bottom Ayr United with a game in hand, with another three teams within a further two points.
Neil Lennon brought his Hibees side to the Paisley 2021 Stadium with a seven-point lead in the table for what looked set to be a mismatch, and so it proved.
But it was a brilliant Buddies display that made Lennon's charges look sub-par and had a few on Greenhill Road rubbing their eyes in disbelief.
St Mirren manager Jack Ross was forced into one change from the side that won 2-0 at Ayr United, Gary Irvine replaced the injured Adam Eckersley.
Saints started well and had a good sight of goal after 10 minutes. Irvine threaded an incisive pass through for Cammy Smith, the on-loan Aberdeen man shimmied past Hibs debutant Efe Ambrose, but his shot from his weaker left foot didn't trouble Ofir Marciano in the Hibs goal.
Kyle Magennis then had the home fans out their seats with a thumping challenge on Ambrose near the sideline as the Buddies made their mark early on. Magennis started like a man possessed, his shot forced Marciano into a smart stop following a knock down by John Sutton.
The Saints had grabbed the game by the scruff off the neck and showed no signs of letting up. Lewis Morgan showed David Gray a clean pair of heels on the left wing, his cross was only partially cleared and that man Magennis was there once again, his left-footed volley crashed off the crossbar and over.
St Mirren finally got the breakthrough their play deserved after 35 minutes. Stephen McGinn produced a lovely pirouette in midfield to get away from his brother John before passing to Stevie Mallan. The midfielder found Stelios with a terrific pass inside of Martin Boyle. The full back cut inside and rifled home from 12 yards.
Hibs had infuriated their manager with a lacklustre first-half display, but passed up a great chance to level just before half-time. McGinn fed Andrew Shinnie on the right with a perfectly judged first-time pass, Shinnie squared for Fraser Fyvie who had plenty of room from 10 yards but leant back and sidefooted over the crossbar.
With barely a minute on the clock in the second half, Saints were in dreamland. Mallan switched play to Smith on the left, Smith found Stelios on another raid down the flank, this time from the edge of the box he jinked inside and fired a shot in off the post to double Saints' advantage.
The Hibees' fight back which would have appeared inevitable with a quick glance at the league table failed to materialise. Mallan, McGinn and Magennis seemed to get to everything in midfield for Saints and barely wasted a pass. McGinn forced a good save from Marciano from 20 yards before Morgan fizzed a shot just over from a similar range.
Saints goalkeeper Billy O'Brien had been a virtual spectator but on 62 minutes he pulled off a miraculous double save. Gray headed down a cross from McGinn and O'Brien stopped shots from six yards from first Boyle and then substitute Grant Holt.
Saints passed up a gilt edged chance to make it three and wrap up the points. A terrific passing move ended with Mallan squaring for Morgan, the winger took a touch but screwed his shot wide of target.
But two would be enough to give St Mirren their second win in a row and set them up well for a Scottish Cup quarter-final tie against Celtic on Sunday.
St Mirren: O'Brien, Stelios, MacKenzie, Davis, Irvine (Fjelde, 61), Magennis (Todd, 86), McGinn, Smith (Baird, 90), Mallan, Morgan, Sutton.
Subs not used: Langfield, Webster, Loy, Storie.