Thornton fight back to sink St Andrews
But it was the visiting team which looked brightest during the opening five minutes.
Indeed, Connor Shaw produced a contender for save of the season from a Garry Thomson shot, and the big keeper also came under pressure at a couple of corners as he punched the ball clear.
Saints then opened the scoring against the run of play in the 11th minute, when Ross Cunningham flighted a delightful cross into the box with the outside of his left foot and Daryl Falconer cleverly lobbed the advancing Jordan Millar from 12 yards.
However, that goal did not upset Thornton’s rhythm as much as the home side would have liked and Shaw was forced into making further saves from former Saints Jamie McNeish and Jack Wilson.
The men in green and white therefore dominated possession as half-time approached and they deservedly grabbed an equaliser in the 39th minute.
Veteran defender Ian Shanks sent a deep cross towards the back post and Thomson read the flight of the ball much better than the St Andrews United defenders before finding the net with a terrific looping header.
Shaw subsequently made another good save to keep the scores level at the interval.
The home players returned looking to perform better down the slope.
The boys in black certainly began the second half well as Jason Penman fired a shot straight at Millar and the same player was denied a penalty on the hour mark when he was seemingly pulled off the ball.
Falconer and Owen Andrew then wasted further good opportunities before Thornton began to threaten at the other end.
Thomson went very close to scoring again when one-on-one with Shaw but the goalie somehow managed to smother his shot with an excellent block.
Wilson also went close to bagging a goal on his old stomping ground by narrowly missing the post – yet he left the pitch moments later as Craig Gilbert made a number of substitutions.
Unfortunately, the United management team was unable to make many changes in response because seven first team players were unavailable.
Hibs consequently finished the contest as the stronger side and Shaw made two further saves to keep the score level.
Alas, debutant Kyle Sneddon was crocked by a hard tackle in the 85th minute and didn’t look fully recovered as play resumed.
The young defender then misjudged a long punt forward and Michael Fleming was unable to keep pace with Thomson as he raced towards Saints’ goal.
Thomson’s initial effort was blocked by Shaw but the striker cleverly readjusted his body prior to converting the rebound with a photogenic over-head kick.
The visiting players were thus content to run down the final few minutes near the opposition corner flags and the United squad looked very tired when the final whistle sounded.