St Mirren 0-0 Hibs: Terry Butcher halts bad run

Terry Butcher is pleased with a point from his first game at the helm. Picture:SNS
Terry Butcher is pleased with a point from his first game at the helm. Picture:SNS
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Terry Butcher celebrated his first match as Hibs manager by halting a run of four successive defeats for the Easter Road outfit but was forced to settle for a hard-fought point in Paisley.

And yet again the Capital club failed to find the net, five games now without a goal although substitute striker James Collins would argue he should have had a first half penalty.

Butcher gave Paul Cairney his first outing of the season, the midfielder having been ruled out for weeks with ankle ligament damage, one of three changes to the Hibs side which had gone down to the new manager’s old club Inverness Caley a fortnight ago.

Liam Craig returned after suspension to take over the captain’s armband as he joined Cairney and Danny Handling in the starting line-up with Collins, Kevin Thomson and Tom Taiwo all dropping to the bench.

James McPake was missing having suffered a renewed back problem and there was no place ijn Butcher’s first squad for Rowan Vine.

Collins, however, only had to wait five minutes for a taste of the action, replacing fellow striker Paul Heffernan who limped off indicating he’d suffered an injury to his left thigh.

Before then, though, Saints hitman Steven Thompson had passed up a glorious opportunity to fire the Buddies ahead, taking Paul McGowan’s pass in space only to blast his shot wide.

Hibs physical approach didn’t go down well with the home support who made their anger at what they saw as a series of over-robust challenges from the Capital side. Butcher’s players were certainly eager, perhaps a touch too much so, as they sought to impress their new boss, their early play a bit too frantic to allow any studied build-up.

Saints, seeking to leapfrog their visitors into seventh place having won four of their last five matches, enjoyed the buik of possession but were unable to duly trouble Ben Williams, the Hibs goalkeeper and it was his opposite number, former Hearts star Marian Kello, who made the game’s first notable save, moving to his right to graps Collin’s glancing header from McGivern’s cross.

And Collins had vehement claims for a penalty waved away after he went down under the challenge of Darren McGregor as Hibs attempted to get a firmer grip of affairs.

At the other end McGregor came close to handing Saints a 34th minute lead as he rose beyond the back post to meet Steven McLean’s corner only to see Alany Maybury nod the ball off his own goal-line.

Saints continued to hold the upperhand in the early stages of the second half but to a lesser extent, the hour mark coming and going without Williams being trbouled other than a low McGowan cross whcih he took at the second attempt.

Likewise, Kello wasn’t forced into anything spectacular with Hibs rarely getting a sight of his goal, a sign, perhaps, that Butcher would be content with anything he could get from the match coming as a tiring Cairney was replaced by a central midfielder in Tom Taiwo.

Kello, though, wasn’t able to hold a Craig corner but no-one in a green and white shirt managed to get the loose ball over the line as Hibs, with the game moving into the last 20 minutes finally began to exert some concerted pressure on Danny Lennon’s side.

Unfortunately for Hibs they were unable to turn that spell into a much-needed goal although a point following four straight defeats would be a measure of compensation.

St Mirren: Kello, Van Zanten (Caprice 78), McAusland, McGregor, Naismith, Newton, Kelly McGowan, McGinn, McLean, Thompson.

Substitutes not used: Cornell, Stewart, Reilly, Grainger, Harkins, Mair.

Hibs: Williams. Maybury, Forster, Hanlon, McGivern, Robertson, Stevenson, Handling (Caldwell 85), Craig, Cairney (Taiwo 65), Heffernan (Collins 5).

Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Tudur Jones, Zoubir, Thomson.

Referee: Steven McLean.