St Johnstone 1 Hibs 1: Saints hold on for a draw

© SNS Group
Action from McDiarmid Park.

St Johnstone held on to their unbeaten league record but only just.

Michael O’Halloran gave them the lead early in the second half with his fifth goal in five Premiership games but it didn’t last long, with a Paul Paton own goal levelling things up.

And from then on it was a combination of good goalkeeping and defending from the home team, and some wasted opportunities for the visitors, that got Tommy Wright’s side their point.

It was a slow start to this game but on 16 minutes a flowing move from Saints involving O’Halloran, Steven MacLean and Stefan Scougall deserved a goal at the end of it. Paul Hanlon slid in to keep the scoreline blank.

The Perth men were getting into their stride and MacLean was wide with a volley from six yards out a few minutes later.

The contest was opening up and midway through the first half Steven Whittaker teed up Simon Murray with a perfect cut-back from the byeline, only for the former Dundee United man to take a heavy first touch and be closed down.

Steven Anderson nearly cost his side the opening goal when a slack pass out of his box picked out John McGinn. Thankfully for the skipper, McGinn’s shot was well enough struck but went straight at Alan Mannus.

There was no doubt that Hibs were finishing the opening 45 stronger and five minutes from the break David Gray shaved the crossbar with a volley from a Martin Boyle cross.

Going into the break level was a decent outcome for Saints given the pressure that had been building on them.

Within a minute of the re-start Hibs were again trying to break down the Perth defensive door, with Mannus saving a low Boyle shot and Richard Foster reacting quickly to deny Murray from the rebound.

The reward for Saints’ penalty box heroics at one end was a goal seconds later at the other one.

A quick counter-attack resulted in substitute Liam Craig delivering a ball to the back post, where that man O’Halloran found the net from close range.

Hibs were level on the hour when Paton sent a Murray cross past his own keeper while trying to stop Anthony Stokes from scoring.

It was all Hibs again now and Anderson had to head the ball away from under his cross bar after yet another cross from the right came into the danger area.

In 84 minutes returning ex-Saint Danny Swanson was guilty of being too selfish in going alone when a lay-off to Murray was a better option, and then Mannus produced a stunning save to deny Boyle.

A Stokes shot over the bar was the last action of note as the game finished 1-1.

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