St Johnstone held by Hibs

St Johnstone extended their unbeaten home record to eight games in all competitions with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against a revitalised Hibs.

Last Updated: 05/03/11 at 17:38 Post Comment

Wotherspoon: Levelled for Hibs

Wotherspoon: Levelled for Hibs

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Derek McInnes' men went into the game unbeaten in six league games at McDiarmid Park but faced a new-look Hibernian side who had five wins in a row.

An own goal by Richie Towell gave the home side the lead early in the second half but David Wotherspoon levelled with 11 minutes to go.

Saints made just one change as club captain Jody Morris dropped out of the squad that secured Saints' sixth clean sheet in row at home in the Scottish League in midweek after the former Chelsea man failed a late fitness test on his ongoing back problem.

The home side's defence again included Graham Gartland who played almost his third full match in a row, after being brought on to cover Michael Duberry as the defender suffered a groin injury early in last Sunday's defeat to Rangers.

Hibernian made three changes, being forced into changing their goalkeeper after number one Graham Stack suffered a shoulder injury against Hamilton in midweek.

Liam Miller dropped to the bench, replaced by Ian Murray and Matthew Thornhill started in favour of Martin Scott for the Eater Road men.

St Johnstone had a good opportunity early on as good link-up play at the edge of the area allowed Peter MacDonald to hook the ball over his shoulder for Jamie Adams to run onto, but Mark Brown was quick off his line to snuff out any danger.

After 20 minutes, nice play on the wing by Collin Samuel allowed the time and space to get the ball into the box. His cross eventually fell to Jamie Adams, but the midfielder hastily fresh-aired his shot and the chance was gone.

On the half hour mark solid build-up play gave Daniel Grainger the time and space he needed to whip in a menacing cross from the right, which caused all sorts of problems in the Hibs defence, and it was left to Francis Dickoh to head the ball out for a corner.

In the 38th minute Samuel fired straight at Brown, who blocked well from four yards - with Paul Hanlon smashing clear the rebound.

Hibs brought on Ricardo Vaz Te for his debut at the start of the second half, the Portuguese forward replacing Derek Riordan.

However, they got off to the worst possible start as St Johnstone struck just a minute after the restart.

Richie Towell's hurried clearance under pressure from Adams found its way straight past Brown - and Saints had the lead.

St Johnstone had the bit between their teeth now and good play from ex-Kilmarnock man Danny Invincibile set up Peter MacDonald, whose 22-yard drive flashed inches wide.

At the other end, David Wotherspoon's curling effort from 25 yards, after good team play, was easily handled by Peter Enckelman in the St Johnstone goal.

However, the goalkeeper narrowly escaped embarrassment moments later, after he ran out his box to clear a harmless through-ball. His clearance fell only to Vaz Te who, from all of 45 yards, smashed the ball goalwards with Enckelman beaten, only to see the ball skew just wide.

Moments later, Hibs were lucky not to be 2-0 behind, after another MacDonald effort, this time a half-volley from the 18 yard line, had Brown scrambling low to his left as it squeezed past the post.

This acted as another wake-up call for Hibs who nearly equalised after good link-up play between Vaz Te and Akpo Sodje allowed the latter to curl a low shot goalwards that Enckelman did well to hold.

And they were to have their reward as they drew level on 80 minutes. Callum Booth and Matthew Thornhill were replaced by Lewis Stevenson and Darryl Duffy, and it was Duffy's skewed shot from the edge of the box that found Wotherspoon at the back post to crash the ball in off the crossbar.

Substitute Andy Jackson fired a volley just wide from the edge of the box, his second near miss since coming on for Samuel - but the match ended all-square.

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