St Johnstone 1-3 Hibernian: Poor home form continues for Saints

Hibernian's Myziane Maolida has a shot during a cinch Premiership match between St Johnstone. SNS Group. -Credit:SNS Group
Hibernian's Myziane Maolida has a shot during a cinch Premiership match between St Johnstone. SNS Group. -Credit:SNS Group

St Johnstone kicked off their post-split run-in with a 3-1 defeat to Hibernian at McDiarmid Park.

The Perth side were booed off at half and full time by the home support after goals by Emiliano Marcondes, Paul Hanlon and Dylan Vente sealed the away win.

Benji Kimpioka snatched a late consolation off the bench.

Saints remain one point above the drop zone after Livingston beat Ross County 2-0.

But they will have to improve mightily from this limp performance if they are to keep their destiny in their own hands.

Craig Levein made three changes to the side that lost to Kilmarnock.

Captain Liam Gordon returned from injury along with Graham Carey, and 16-year-old midfielder Fran Franczak, deployed at right wing-back, got a starting nod.

Max Kucheriavyi and David Keltjens dropped to the bench and Tony Gallacher was not involved in the matchday squad.

Hibs made a bright start and on six minutes Marcondes poured cold water over any optimism from the home support.

His free-kick was inch perfect. It flew into the top corner of Dimitar Mitov’s net, who tried to check back having shifted to the left of his goalmouth. But it was too late.

Marcondes makes it 1-0. SNS Group -Credit:SNS Group
Marcondes makes it 1-0. SNS Group -Credit:SNS Group

It momentarily sparked St Johnstone into life with Adama Sidibeh gifted a golden chance to level three minutes later.

The ball fell to him after goalkeeper David Marshall’s clearance was intercepted. But the Gambian’s placed shot, lacking both power and lift, was saved by the Hibs stopper’s outstretched leg.

Winger Myziane Maolida nearly doubled the Edinburgh lead moments later after a one-two with Hansen, but his left-footed effort kissed the crossbar.

Saints started giving the ball away needlessly on a number of occasions, which killed momentum around the away box. And Hibs were looking more and more comfortable with Maolida causing havoc down the Saints right.

Ryan McGowan fouled the Frenchman outside the box on 35 minutes as he made a charging run. Referee David Munro gave a free kick inches from the white paint.

Marcondes looked for his second free kick goal but sent his effort over.

Dan Phillips sliced a long-range effort well wide with Marshall left undisturbed for the rest of the half.

Chris Cadden shot wide just before half time following a flowing counter-attack involving Hansen and Joe Newell.

Considine then lost the ball to Martin Boyle on the edge of the Hibs’ area. The attacker charged the rest of the field and into the Saints box. He tried to chip Mitov but the Bulgarian remained composed and palmed it away.

If the first Hibs goal was a wonder strike, the second was the polar opposite.

Newell's long throw in into the box left the Saints defence at sixes and sevens. The ball wasn’t cleared, and pinballed around before falling to the feet of Paul Hanlon who gobbled up the gift from six yards out.

Sidibeh was taken off with an injury and Kimpioka stepped in.

Loud boos greeted the players at half-time.

Saints had more possession after the break but Hibs countered through the heart of the Perth midfield. Boyle laid off for Maolida but his effort was superbly cleared off the line by Phillips.

Levein tried to force the issue with a triple substitution with half an hour left. Off went Nicky Clark, Matt Smith and Fran Franczak and on came Stevie May, Drey Wright and Connor Smith.

Sidibeh is taken off with an injury -Credit:SNS Group
Sidibeh is taken off with an injury -Credit:SNS Group

Connor Smith appealed for a penalty with claims of a push. VAR and Munro were having none of it.

Hibs sub Dylan Vente then settled the game once and for all. He pounced on a header to calmly convert for 3-0 on 76 minutes.

Kimpioka was in the right place at the right time to grab a late consolation from close range after Luke Robinson fired in a low ball.

Saints supporter's aired their anger at full-time - after all they haven't seen a home win in over four months now.

Ross County’s 2-0 defeat at Livingston handed St Johnstone a reprieve. But how many will they need before they grasp the carrot of survival persistently dangled in front of them.