Saints score late to hurt Hibees

St Johnstone midfielder Liam Craig dispatched a late penalty at Easter Road as the Saints left Hibs frustrated yet again by earning a 1-1 draw.

Last Updated: 27/02/10 at 17:37 Post Comment

Stokes: Celebrates giving Hibs the lead

Stokes: Celebrates giving Hibs the lead

Just over a week after dishing out a 5-1 hammering to John Hughes' side, the visitors struck with five minutes left to cancel out Anthony Stokes' third minute spot kick.

In an improved second half display, Derek Riordan had a shot cleared off the line as Hibs looked to double their lead.

St Johnstone midfielder Chris Millar smashed a shot wide from close range in injury time as Hibs fans bade farewell to the soon-to-be demolished East Stand.

A minutes' applause prior to kick-off gave the hosts a chance to show their respects to former players Bobby Smith and Alan Gordon following their recent deaths.

And Hughes' side took the lead after just three minutes when Stokes tucked a penalty low into the right-hand corner, sending goalkeeper Graeme Smith the wrong way.

Colin Nish was caught by Smith, who picked up a yellow card, when he attempted to round the goalkeeper after he was put through on goal in a neat move involving Stokes.

St Johnstone were looking to respond from that earlier setback and Cillian Sheridan was granted a sight at goal after an attempted clearance rebounded off Miller and fell into the striker's path.

However, Sol Bamba made up ground and shepherded the ball back to Graham Stack.

Hibs broke quickly from a St Johnstone free-kick in a move that saw Riordan beat Steven Anderson on the edge of the box but the striker's tame shot across goal was well blocked by Smith.

As if a threadbare pitch was not making life difficult enough for the players, a swirling wind was also hampering both teams.

The visitors had a chance to test Stack with a free-kick 30 yards from goal but Liam Craig opted for a cross into the box that was dealt with by the home defence.

Nish was afforded a rare opening as he latched onto Miller's pass minutes before the break but he failed woefully in attempting to chip Smith from the corner of the box as his shot bounced harmlessly into the keeper's arms.

Hibs made the better start to the second half but it was the Perth side that registered the first two attempts at goal following the break.

A cross into the Hibs box was only partially cleared and right-back Dave Mackay struck a volley just over the bar from 15 yards in the 50th minute.

Seconds later Sheridan found space for himself just outside the area but his well-struck left-footed effort just missed the target.

Hibs fans were becoming increasingly frustrated by the referee's decision-making after he blew for a foul on Kevin Moon even though Miller appeared to win the ball legitimately.

Chris Miller then sliced a lofted volley into Stack's hands from Moon's delivery.

Saints supporters shouted for a penalty in the 76th minute when Murray Davidson was squeezed out inside the box by Chris Hogg and David Wotherspoon but the referee waved away those appeals.

The match finally burst into life with 20 minutes remaining as both teams created chances.

Saints midfielder Liam Craig's free-kick into the box in the 71st minute was nodded down by Michael Duberry and Mackay's effort from 15 yards was deflected over the bar.

At the other end two minutes later, Miller teed up Riordan just outside the box and the striker's low drive was palmed clear by Smith.

Hibs upped the tempo as they sought to put the game beyond doubt as Riordan then had an effort cleared off the line by Mackay in the 74th minute.

Stokes flicked the ball on to Nish who fed Riordan inside the box. After rounding Smith, however, the marksman's shot was diverted behind for a corner.

St Johnstone were handed a lifeline with five minutes left when the referee pointed to the penalty spot again after Miller was adjudged to have handled Davidson's flick on.

Craig stepped up and fired a left-footed strike high into the net past Stack to level the scores.

Chris Millar missed a great chance to secure all three points as he shot wide from close range in injury time after latching on to sub Filipe Morais' pass.

Appeals for a Hibs penalty for a Mackay handball were then ignored late on.

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