Callum Booth: St Johnstone defender has say on Hibs penalty, Jamie McCart dismissal and Liam Craig milestone
All good things must come to an end at some point, but for St Johnstone, the manner in which their five-game unbeaten run against Hibs and their nine-year spell of invincibility at Easter Road ended was particularly sore.
The Saints fully believe that the decision to award Hibs a 60th-minute penalty in their cinch Premiership clash on Sunday was unfair, with referee John Beaton deciding that defender Jamie McCart handled a goalbound shot from Martin Boyle. The referee pointed to the spot, booked McCart and then gave the frustrated centre-half a second yellow card for dissent 15 minutes later. He was not the only one left angered by the official.
St Johnstone are made of stern stuff, though, and are not going to let a hiccup in Edinburgh derail them, even if defender Callum Booth lamented how the 1-0 defeat came about.
“We’d had a brilliant run against Hibs and really had the upper hand recently,” Booth, a former Easter Road player, said.
“It is disappointing to lose in any fashion but it hurts even more when it’s a decision the ref has made against us.
“You get them in the season and you hope that they level themselves out. But sitting after the game it is hard to take.
“At the time I didn’t think it was a penalty. I’ve watched it back, it’s not a penalty.
“He is literally half-a-yard away and [Martin] Boyle has volleyed it against him. Jamie’s hand is in against his body. There is nothing he can do.
“I just can’t see how it can be given when it’s so close.
“We were right in the game and the first goal was always going to be massive.
“Jamie must have got booked for the penalty incident.
“I don’t know if he said something to the ref or received a booking for the handball. If he did, it probably shouldn’t have been a booking.
“It’s frustrating and he was obviously angry and annoyed. Rightly so.
“But Jamie will know himself that he shouldn’t have reacted like that for the second card. There is no excuse for that one.
“He has been such a good player for us so we will look forward to getting him back."
One positive note for St Johnstone was Liam Craig’s 441st appearance for the club, equalling the record set by former defender Steven Anderson.
Craig will move ahead of Anderson this Saturday if selected when St Johnstone take on Dundee at McDiarmid Park and Booth could not be fulsome in his praise of the 34-year-old, emphasising the importance of getting a positive result against the Dees.
“We have a massive game on Saturday now,” said Booth.
“Liam has been unbelievable for this club and is great about the changing room.
“Before games in the warm-up he is in our ear and really gets us going. He really is a leader around the place.
“He is still fit as a fiddle and playing a huge part in this squad.
“Hopefully he can break the appearance record this week and we can get a win for him. He is such a good person and player.”