Martin Boyle was the hero for Hibs as he scored the only goal of the game yesterday as the Cabbage continued their unbeaten start to the league season – but referee John Beaton was at the centre of controversy after a disputed penalty handed the Easter Road side the win.
Hibs manager Jack Ross made a couple of changes from the midweek League Cup win as Josh Doig returned for Lewis Stevenson and Chris Cadden came in for Jake Doyle-Hayes. The Saints started without the injured James Brown and the benched Glenn Middleton as Liam Craig equalled the Perth side’s all-time appearance record
Incredibly, St Johnstone had won the last four meetings between the two sides before this afternoon, with the Perth men undefeated in seven league games at Easter Road – a run which stretched back to 2012.
Both sides had chances to break the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes, although neither keeper was particularly busy as the two defences done theirs jobs well and snuffed out much of the attacking play.
With little between the two sides, the game hinged on Beaton’s decision to award a spot-kick after deeming Jamie McCart handled the ball inside the area – although replays showed the Saints defender could do nothing to avoid the contact with his arm from Boyle’s effort.
Visiting keeper Zander Clark managed to get a hand onto Boyle’s penalty but the Scotland squad keeper couldn’t keep it out as the Australian international celebrated in front of his watching family.
Soon after the controversial penalty decision, McCart picked up a second yellow card for sarcastically applauding the assistant referee, bringing his afternoon to an end and killing any hopes of St. Johnstone launching a comeback.
While the Saints defender can have no complaints over his second yellow, referee John Beaton needs to take some responsibility for his role in causing frustration for both sets of players with a string of shockingly bad decisions.
The result sees Hibs return to second place in the Premiership table and sets up a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash with Rangers next weekend.
Hibs: Macey, McGinn, Porteous, Hanlon (C), Doig, Newell, Allan, Magennis, Boyle, Cadden, Nisbet.
Subs: Dabrowski, Stevenson, Gullan, Doyle-Hayes, Scott, Wood, Gogic.
St Johnstone: Clark, Rooney, Ambrose, McCart, Booth, Craig (C), Wotherspoon, Muller, Crawford, Kane, O’Halloran.
Subs: Parish, Dendoncker, Devine, Gilmour, Middleton, May, Vertainen.
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