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St Mirren 2-3 Hibernian: Report
Saints bounce back from McInnes exit
Life without Derek McInnes began with a creditable 0-0 draw for St. Johnstone as the Perth side emerged unscathed from an insipid encounter in Tayside.
Dundee United struggled to penetrate their organised, industrious opponents throughout, although they did see a stunning Garry Kenneth drive smash against the crossbar in the second half.
The busy Lauri Dalla Valle also saw a series of efforts fail to find the net, as the home side's attacks were continually repelled by a wall of blue.
Chances for the visitors were at a premium, but Dusan Pernis had to be alive to deny Francisco Sandaza an opener with a fine sprawling save, blocking the Saints' best chance.
St. Johnstone's caretaker duo of Alec Cleland and Jody Morris will have every reason be pleased with a courageous point on the road but United will once again rue a lacklustre home display.
The Terrors have still only won once in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at home this season and have slipped perilously close to the foot of the SPL.
Danny Swanson, out for two months with a knee injury, was replaced by Lauri Dalla Valle. Keith Watson and Barry Douglas also replaced Scott Allan and Johnny Russell.
Saints made just one enforced change from the recent 2-0 victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, with Cillian Sheridan replaced by Marcus Haber.
The home side was the first to threaten in what was a fairly turgid, scrappy opening. A hopeful long ball was poorly dealt with by Dave Mackay after five minutes, allowing Dalla Valle to steal a march on him, but the Finnish forward's drive was saved by Peter Enckelman.
The Perth side sparked into some semblance of life after a quarter of an hour. A cutting through-ball from Callum Davidson found the scampering Kevin Moon but his effort was deflected wide.
From the subsequent corner the towering Haber nodded inches wide of the post, following Liam Craig's deep delivery.
A somewhat muted Tannadice was awakened with the first truly slick move of the match midway through the half. Jon Daly found Watson bolting down the right flank with a beautifully weighted pass. The 21-year old's cross was impeccably measured for Dalla Valle, but his near-post header flashed just over the bar.
While United were struggling to break down the Saints, Frazer Wright almost did the job for them. The big defender, twisting awkwardly, pushing a Watson cross inches wide of his own net with his knee.
An eventful couple of minutes for Wright continued when he headed over at the right end after Kenneth had been caught under the ball from a Davidson cross.
Kenneth, who endured a couple of haphazard moments in the first period, almost opened the scoring three minutes into the second half with a blistering drive. The Scotland international blasted a thunderous free-kick from 30 yards which crashed against the bar, with Enckelman utterly stranded.
The sides then traded terrific chances in a lively opening to proceedings in the second period. Firstly, Dusan Pernis had to be sharp to block a scuffed Sandaza effort after Paul Dixon failed to deal with a looping ball into the box.
That was immediately followed by Dalla Valle - the on-loan Fulham man proving a constant threat - firing just wide of the post following an excellent John Rankin delivery.
United were inches away from claiming a precious breakthrough with 25 minutes to play. Barry Douglas bravely got his head onto a Watson cross, but the effort drifted wide with the keeper bearing down on him.
It proved to be the last real chance as a close encounter descended, once again, into a grim battle, achingly devoid of class.
St Mirren 2-3 Hibernian: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statictics of the game as it happened.
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