Hibs 0, St Johnstone 0: Hibs draw blank

Pic: Ian Georgeson
Pic: Ian Georgeson
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Goal shy Hibs drew another blank as they were forced to settle for a goal-less draw against ten men St Johnstone.

The Saints were forced to play a man short for an hour after former Easter Road star Patrick Cregg was sent off only seconds after stepping off the bench to replace the injured Murray Davidson.

But Hibs were unable to make their numerical advantage count although they were convinced referee Alan Muir had robbed them of a penalty two minutes into added on time at the end of the game as striker James Collins had his legs whipped from under him by Tam Scobbie.

Hibs gave a first stasrt to 18-year-old Jason Cummings, scorer of 30 goals for the club’s Under-20 and East of Scotland teams this season, with Danny Handling on the bench as assistant manager Maurice Malpas took charge of the team, boss Terry Butcher having been banished to the stand to serve a toucoline ban.

Although Hibs had much of the ball in the opening phases there was little for the home fans to get excited about other than a Ryan McGivern free-kick which was blasted high and wide and a Jordon Forster header which flew over the bar.

But that almost changed 20 minutes in when Paul Ciairney picked up a loose ball inside the Saints penalty area and fired in an angled shot which goalkeeper Alan Mannus did well to beat away.

The Perth side were forced into a substitution in the 30th minute as Murray Davidson limped off to be replaced by Cregg but the former Hibs midfielder had barely been on the pitch for 30 seconds before he was sent off, shown a straight red card by referee Muir for a two-footed lunge at Cairney.

It was the second week in succession Saints had seen a substitute sent off with seconds of coming on, Rory Fallon having been shown the red card against Aberdeen.

The loss of Cregg didn’t immediately hamper Tommy Wright’s side, though, and they came close to taking the lead four minutes from half-time, former Hibs midfielder David Wotherspoon delivering a superb low cross with Stevie May met at the near post to force a superb save from Ben Williams who then threw himself on the loose ball before any further danger threatened.

Hibs almost took the lead four minutes after the interval, but what a bizarre goal it would have been. Forster’s superb ball forward found the run of Scott Robertson whose cross sliced off the boot of Saints star Gary McDonald, the ball stopped from flying into the net thanks to a combination of goalkeeper Mannus and his near post.

Cummings somehow put the ball over from close-range as Hibs pressed for that opener.

Hibs: Williams, Forster, Nelson, Hanlon, McGivern, Cairney, Robertson (Thomson 63), Craig, Stevenson (Zoubir 75), Cummings, Collins.

Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Maybury, Handling, Stanton, Caldwell.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Mackay, Jahic, Wright, Scobbie, C Millar (G Miller 37), Davidson (Cregg 30), McDonald, Edwards (Easton 85), Wotherspoon, May.

Substitutes not used: Banks, Hasselbaink, Croft, Kane.

Referee: Alan Muir.