Hibernian 2-2 St Johnstone: Edinburgh side’s season ‘can tip either way’ – Jack Ross – BBC Sport

Hibernian are at tipping point after only one win in five games following a good start to the season, head coach Jack Ross said after their 2-2 draw at home to St Johnstone.

Ross’ men came from behind twice with a double from defender Paul McGinn to move third in the Scottish Premiership.

Ali McCann and former Hibs midfielder David Wotherspoon scored for Saints.

“I would describe it as a good season at the moment, but it can tip either way,” Ross told BBC Scotland.

“We need to get it back to being a very good season. We need to have that ambition to win every game at Easter Road and the expectation to go and win it.”

While Hibs move above Aberdeen, who play Hamilton Academical on Wednesday, on goal difference after stretching their unbeaten home run to six games, they have failed to defeat St Johnstone in their last six visits to Easter Road.

Gathering another point in Leith not only moves the Perth side above Motherwell into seventh but stretches their unbeaten league run to seven outings.

Ross, perhaps not surprisingly, had stuck with the line-up that went so close to beating Celtic on Saturday, but it was a different story for counterpart Callum Davidson.

Defender Jason Kerr, an ever-present this season, and influential midfielders Murray Davidson and Craig Conway missed out through injury as the stretched visitors only named six players on their bench.

Being the more-settled side looked to favour Hibs in the early moments as Jamie Murphy broke into the penalty box and fired straight at goalkeeper Zander Clark.

However, the visitors settled and perhaps only a lack of match sharpness prevented Guy Melamed opening the scoring.

The Israeli striker, making his first league start since his switch from Maccabi Netanya, showed neat footwork to deceive a couple of defenders inside the penalty box but shot over.

Michael O’Halloran fired just wide before Hibs lost centre-half Paul Hanlon to injury and St Johnstone took the lead when Stevie May forced a deflection off substitute Darren McGregor and Northern Ireland midfielder McCann pounced to side-foot home from 15 yards.

Hibs were level within 60 seconds as a ricochet at the other end gave Kevin Nisbet the chance to set up defender McGinn to fire in off the far post.

Nisbet and Joe Newell both missed the target and Murphy shot straight at Clark from good positions inside the visitors’ six-yard box before Wotherspoon threatened to win it for St Johnstone with a thrusting run and finish from the edge of the penalty area.

However, McGinn’s powerful effort denied the Perth side a fourth consecutive away win and ensured a fifth game against the visitors without defeat, as the symmetry of neither side having beaten the other at home in nine meetings since 2014 was preserved.

Man of the match – Jamie Murphy

St Johnstone's Danny McNamara and Hibs' Jamie Murphy
St Johnstone’s Danny McNamara and Jamie Murphy both impressed in their head to head, but the Hibs winger just edged it and was a constant threat

What did we learn?

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard said before his side entertained Aberdeen on Sunday that we could not rule the Pittodrie side and Hibs out of the title race, but after Rangers won 4-0 and Hibs suffered this latest home stumble, it seems we can.

Hibs are more realistically involved in a head to head with Aberdeen for third and, although they have now only lost twice in 11 outings, Ross’ side have only won once in five and are level with their rivals having played two games more.

While Hibs’ challenge is stalling, St Johnstone appear to be on the march and, after again proving to be a thorn in the Edinburgh outfit’s side – despite injuries to key players – must be viewing a top-six finish as a realistic target.

What did they say?

Hibs ‘have become too easy to score against’ – Ross

Hibernian head coach Jack Ross: “The positives were the character the players showed being behind twice and coming back into it and the attacking play at times was good. But we’ve become a little bit easy to score against. We need to show more hunger to keep the ball out.”

St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson: “When you go 2-1 up with 20 minutes to go, you’re hoping to see the game out. Hibs played some really good stuff. I think at stages we both played well, we both defended poorly, very similar.

“I thought the effort tonight was magnificent. We’re four players down in a small squad.”

Davidson ‘disappointed’ by St Johnstone concessions

What’s next?

Both sides are in League Cup second round action on Saturday as Hibs look to repeat their 4-1 group win at home to Dundee (15:00 GMT), while St Johnstone visit Motherwell (15:00) in a reverse of venue after Sunday’s 1-1 Premiership draw.

Hibs next visit Motherwell in the league on 5 December, with St Johnstone visiting Celtic the following day.

Player of the match

McCannAlistair McCann

with an average of 7.93

Hibernian

  1. Squad number6Player nameMcGinn

    Average rating

    6.88

  2. Squad number18Player nameMurphy

    Average rating

    6.78

  3. Squad number1Player nameMarciano

    Average rating

    6.10

  4. Squad number15Player nameNisbet

    Average rating

    5.69

  5. Squad number26Player nameMackie

    Average rating

    5.51

  6. Squad number13Player nameGogic

    Average rating

    5.47

  7. Squad number5Player namePorteous

    Average rating

    5.40

  8. Squad number11Player nameNewell

    Average rating

    5.30

  9. Squad number10Player nameBoyle

    Average rating

    5.05

  10. Squad number24Player nameMcGregor

    Average rating

    4.97

  11. Squad number9Player nameDoidge

    Average rating

    4.92

  12. Squad number14Player nameMallan

    Average rating

    4.84

  13. Squad number4Player nameHanlon

    Average rating

    4.53

  14. Squad number19Player nameGullan

    Average rating

    4.47

St Johnstone

  1. Squad number18Player nameMcCann

    Average rating

    7.93

  2. Squad number4Player nameMcCart

    Average rating

    7.71

  3. Squad number14Player nameMay

    Average rating

    7.29

  4. Squad number15Player nameMcNamara

    Average rating

    7.16

  5. Squad number17Player nameMelamed

    Average rating

    7.15

  6. Squad number10Player nameWotherspoon

    Average rating

    7.07

  7. Squad number19Player nameRooney

    Average rating

    7.06

  8. Squad number3Player nameTanser

    Average rating

    6.88

  9. Squad number11Player nameO’Halloran

    Average rating

    6.88

  10. Squad number26Player nameCraig

    Average rating

    6.85

  11. Squad number6Player nameGordon

    Average rating

    6.77

  12. Squad number1Player nameClark

    Average rating

    6.57

  13. Squad number9Player nameKane

    Average rating

    5.68

Line-ups

Hibernian

  • 1Marciano
  • 6McGinn
  • 5Porteous
  • 4HanlonSubstituted forMcGregorat 21′minutesBooked at 70mins
  • 26Mackie
  • 10Boyle
  • 14Mallan
  • 13GogicSubstituted forDoidgeat 56′minutes
  • 11Newell
  • 18Murphy
  • 15NisbetSubstituted forGullanat 83′minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Gray
  • 8Wright
  • 9Doidge
  • 19Gullan
  • 20Hallberg
  • 22McGinn
  • 24McGregor
  • 25Doig
  • 33Barnes

St Johnstone

  • 1Clark
  • 19Rooney
  • 6Gordon
  • 4McCart
  • 15McNamara
  • 26Craig
  • 18McCann
  • 3Tanser
  • 17MelamedSubstituted forWotherspoonat 61′minutes
  • 11O’Halloran
  • 14MaySubstituted forKaneat 87′minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Kane
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 12Parish
  • 22Hendry
  • 24Booth
  • 46Ferguson

Referee:
Kevin Clancy

Match Stats

Live Text

  1. Match ends, Hibernian 2, St. Johnstone 2.

  2. Second Half ends, Hibernian 2, St. Johnstone 2.

  3. Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Stephen Mallan.

  4. Attempt blocked. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

  5. Substitution, St. Johnstone. Christopher Kane replaces Stevie May.

  6. Hand ball by Shaun Rooney (St. Johnstone).

  7. Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Scott Tanser.

  8. Substitution, Hibernian. James Gullan replaces Kevin Nisbet.

  9. Goal! Hibernian 2, St. Johnstone 2. Paul McGinn (Hibernian) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner.

  10. Attempt missed. Stevie May (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by David Wotherspoon with a cross.

  11. Goal! Hibernian 1, St. Johnstone 2. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Alistair McCann.

  12. Foul by Joe Newell (Hibernian).

  13. Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Attempt saved. Jamie Murphy (Hibernian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Martin Boyle with a cross.

  15. Attempt missed. Alistair McCann (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is high and wide to the right.

  16. Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

  17. Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Joe Newell.

  18. Attempt blocked. Scott Tanser (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

  19. Darren McGregor (Hibernian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  20. Foul by Darren McGregor (Hibernian).

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