Chris Kane salvaged a precious point for St Johnstone as they drew with 10-man Hibs at McDiarmid Park last night.
With only four league wins on their own park this season, the Perth men looked like they might fail to capitalise after the Easter Road men lost goalkeeper Ofir Marciano to a red card after just 14 minutes.
By then, the Hibees held the lead thanks to Efe Ambrose’s header after just two minutes.
Saints did create chances but came up against a brick wall in the form of ex-Dundee United number one Cammy Bell, who had replaced Jamie Maclaren after the dismissal.
It looked like the visitors would be saved by the Bell until Kane poked the ball past him on 83 minutes.
The goal came as real relief for the Saints supporters, who must have been worried that the club’s poor record would come back to haunt them again.
St Johnstone began without the suspended Jason Kerr so that created a vacancy for Liam Gordon. That was the only change to the team that swept all before them at Dundee last Saturday.
Hibs also made just a single alteration to the starting line-up from their previous match – that impressive Edinburgh derby win over Hearts – with Scotland call-up man Dylan McGeouch missing out through injury and Marvin Bartley taking his place.
Saints got off to the worst possible start, conceding a goal after just a couple of minutes.
Scott Allan was the architect for the visitors, with the former Dundee loan player taking on Chris Millar before crossing for Ambrose to head past goalie Alan Mannus from 10 yards. The big defender celebrated with a spectacular triple backflip that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the Olympics.
Saints, to their credit, stayed on the front foot despite going behind and, on 14 minutes, they found themselves up against 10 men when Marciano was red-carded.
It was a daft one from the Israeli as he raced outside his box to handle the ball in a bid to prevent Kane from breaking clear. The visitors brought on sub goalie Bell, with the unfortunate Maclaren the player sacrificed.
Saints had a decent chance on 21 minutes when a corner reached defender Joe Shaughnessy at the back post but he turned and fired high into the stand.
Despite being depleted, the Leith men were still a threat and Allan fired over a low cross only for the ball to go through the legs of teammate Florian Kamberi.
Home defender Steven Anderson was booked on 28 minutes when he was beaten for pace by Hibs’ Martin Boyle. Paul Hanlon nodded Allan’s freekick over for Neil Lennon’s team then, up at the other end, Murray Davidson looped a header over Bell’s bar.
With half-time approaching, Saints piled pressure on Hibs and it almost paid off.
Firstly, Shaughnessy’s close-range effort was parried brilliantly by Bell then Liam Craig clipped a 20-yard shot just over.
A minute later, they squandered an even better chance when Craig played a perfect low cross from the left for Kane, who should have struck it first time instead of trying to take a touch and getting the ball caught in his feet.
The Perth men made a change at the break, with Millar making way for George Williams.
They were quickly on the offensive after the restart and good work from Kane saw him get the better of Hanlon before clipping the outside of the post with a strike.
The home team were at it again on 51 minutes when sub Williams brought a fine save out of Bell and Kane couldn’t convert the rebound.
Kamberi sent a snap-shot wide of the Saints goal before Blair Alston took a booking for his team when he halved Hibs captain John McGinn as he raced upfield.
Hibs had a great chance to double their lead on 79 minutes when Lewis Stevenson raced up the left and his cross was nicked just past the near post by Kamberi.
Just a minute later, Saints sub Williams created an excellent opening inside the box but his shot just cleared the bar.
Williams looked lively and it was no surprise that he was the one to set up Kane for the equaliser with just seven minutes left, the striker finally beating Bell with a well-struck shot to make it 1-1.
It was all Saints in the closing stages, with a Scott Tanser shot smacking the bar then Williams shooting over.
St Johnstone: Mannus, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Gordon (Johnstone 73), Tanser, Alston (Wotherspoon 68), Millar (Williams 46), Davidson, Craig, MacLean, Kane. Subs not used: Clark, Comrie, Watson, Willock.
Hibs: Marciano, Hanlon, Bartley, McGinn, Stevenson, Boyle, Maclaren (Bell 15), Kamberi, Allan, McGregor, Ambrose. Subs not used: Whittaker, Swanson, Rherras, Shaw, Porteous, Stirling.
Referee: John Beaton.