Substitutes inspire late goals to secure victory

Scott Allan and Jamie Murphy stepped off the substitutes’ bench to inspire our side to a deserved victory this afternoon.

We dominated the match and had to show real perseverance to overcome the odds and secure all three points.

Liam Gordon’s first half header had given the hosts an ill-deserved lead at the break, however the sending off of Craig Bryson seconds before the interval hampered the home side for the second period.

It appeared that it was going to be one of those days after we had two efforts chalked off and struck the woodwork three times, however our battling spirit saw us through.

Kevin Nisbet hit the back of the net for the third time this afternoon with nine minutes remaining and it was his first that counted before Murphy scored moments later to secure victory.

Jack Ross made two changes to the side with Ryan Porteous returning from suspension whilst Jamie Gullan was given the opportunity in attack, alongside Nisbet.

Martin Boyle and Christian Doidge missed out after midweek red cards, whilst Josh Campbell was once again preferred in midfield.

Five league defeats on the bounce meant we were desperate to get back to winning ways and we made a positive start by fashioning an early opportunity.

Only three minutes had been played when Gullan’s powerful shot deflected into the path of Josh Doig at the edge of the box and the full-back’s low drive fizzed just wide of the far post.

Moments later we had the ball in the net as Nisbet raced through on goal and slotted his shot beyond Zander Clark only for the offside flag to end his celebrations.

All the early running was coming from us and we had another opportunity on 14 minutes when Gullan ran the channel before picking out Campbell and his first-time shot was saved by Clark.

Jake Doyle-Hayes was at his tenacious best in the middle of the park as he constantly won possession before setting his side onto the attack.

Campbell had another shot at goal that he dragged wide before Michael O’Halloran did likewise at the other end, striking Saints' first effort on goal after 23 minutes.

The movement of our side was causing the hosts several problems and when Porteous stepped up he fed Campbell on the right and his low cross only just evaded Gullan sliding in.

Five minutes before half-time the deadlock was broken however it was St Johnstone stealing an advantage. A corner kick was floated into the back post where Gordon headed it goalward before Porteous got the final touch just in front of goal.

The breakthrough came against the run of play however we almost grabbed a quick-fire equaliser when Gullan’s corner found Campbell stooping at the front post and his header crashed back off the post.

In time added on at the end of the first half Saints we’re reduced to ten men when Bryson picked up a second yellow card for a lunge on Joe Newell.

We wasted little time getting back onto the attack after the break and after a series of corner kicks Paul Hanlon had a great chance after the ball dropped kindly for him, only for the skipper to slip at the crucial moment.

On 50 minutes we again went agonisingly close when Chris Cadden’s strike on angle from edge of the box beat Clark only to crash back into play off the crossbar.

The Saints goal continued to live a fragile existence and we were again wasteful when Gullan’s hanging cross found Doig unmarked at the back post however, with the goal at his mercy, the youngster completely missed the ball.

For the second time this afternoon we had the ball in the St Johnstone net after Nisbet headed in from Doig’s cross, however the match official penalised Porteous for a push on Jamie McCart and the effort was again chalked off.

Ross made brave substitutes withdrawing the likes of Paul McGinn and Doyle-Hayes to put on more attacking options and that decision would eventually reap rewards for us.

We kept pushing and it took a wonder save from Clark to deny when Murphy met Nisbet’s lay-off flush on the volley only for the goalkeeper to pull off an acrobatic stop.

We were completely dominant and laying siege to the Saints goal. We almost found the elusive equalising goal on 70 minutes when Porteous rose to meet Newell’s corner kick, only for his header to drop agonisingly wide of the far post.

A goal was coming, and we kept the pressure on Saints as it took another fine save from Clark to keep us out - this time beating away a Doig effort at his near post.

Our perseverance finally paid with nine minutes remaining when Nisbet slotted away from a Murphy lay-off after fine play from Allan.

It was the least we deserved. and we nearly grabbed a quick-fire second goal when Murphy latched onto an Allan cut back only to pull his shot agonisingly wide of goal.

St Johnstone were rattled and with five minutes remaining we grabbed the winning goal. Allan was again the architect, turning away from Cammy MacPherson to make space before picking out Murphy at the back post and he tapped the ball home.

Our relentless attacking continued into time added on when Porteous found himself clean through, the defender beat Clark only to strike the woodwork.

St Johnstone: Clark, Dendoncker, Gordon, McCart, Rooney (Brown 75’), Davidson (Solomon-Octabor 87’), Bryson, Booth, Crawford, O’Halloran, Vertainen (MacPherson 46’). Substitutes not used: Parish, Ambrose, Devine, Craig.

Hibernian: Macey, McGinn (Murphy 62’), Porteous, Hanlon, Cadden, Doyle-Hayes (Scott 77‘), Campbell, Newell, Doig, Nisbet, Gullan (Allan 71’). Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Stevenson, Gogic, Wright.

Referee: Euan Anderson.