Hibs 0 St Johnstone 0: How many of bumper crowd will return with Shaun Maloney's strikers still off-key?
There were over 19,000 fans in the stadium but how many will return when normal pricing is resumed is unknown, as Hibs served up their third successive 0-0 result.
They have now failed to score in six of their previous eight games and while it has not proved too damaging in terms of league standings – they sit fourth on goal difference – they are aware that they could have been sitting more comfortably as the split looms large.
The loss of the influential Martin Boyle robbed them of some potency, while injuries, illness and suspensions have denied them the quality, experience and input of other key first-choice players. Against the league leaders Celtic that could be considered a valid excuse but Dundee and St Johnstone, locked in their relegation battle at the foot of the table, are teams they should be beating. Or, at the very least, scoring against.
There was a sense of purpose in the opening 45 minutes as they went in search of a breakthrough and on-loan Fulham forward Sylvester Jasper was the primary instigator for Hibs, while Callum Hendry reflected his efforts for St Johnstone. But there was no end product as the teams engineered just three shots on target between them on a day when they could have played until midnight and still struggled to find a way through.
There was industry, with both teams putting in the effort, it was simply a case of it not being channelled properly or with penetration.
Hibs’ best efforts came in the second half, which was more open than the first, but both Elias Melkersen and Josh Doig saw their shots narrowly deflected over the bar.
The Norwegian youngster was introduced to the play in the 59th minute, along with Scott Allan, and their arrival was given a raptors response by a crowd desperate of someone capable of breaking the deadlock or even threatening to do so.
The positivity was justified as the lively pair combined almost immediately, to carve out an opportunity for the 19 year-old. It was blocked but it spoke to the striker’s intent. A player with a combative edge, he scurried about looking to take responsibility and get in the end of Allan’s inventiveness, with little passes round the corner, or slid in between defenders.
In a game that needed something to spark it into life, they provided fresh impetus. But, with both defences in control it wasn’t enough.
Hibs might have been able to gain an advantage had there been a more stringent punishment for Cammy McPherson’s recklessness as he lunged into a high tackle on Jake Doyle Hayes but referee Craig Napier decided it was worthy of a yellow rather than red.
That left the teams locked in stalemate, huffing and puffing but unable to blow the other away. It also left Hibs pondering where goals are going to come from as they chase a European spot and Scottish Cup progression.
For Saints boss Callum Davidson it is all about Premiership survival.
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