Stevenson scores overdue goal as Hibs secure top-six spot at St Johnstone
Lewis Stevenson scored his first goal in almost five years as 10-man Hibernian booked their place in the top six of the cinch Premiership despite being held to a 1-1 draw by struggling St Johnstone.
The 35-year-old left-back netted for the first time since July 2018 to cancel out Stevie May’s acrobatic opener for a Saints side under the charge of caretaker boss Stevie MacLean for the first time following Callum Davidson’s sacking.
Hibs’ hopes of going on to win the game were dented by a contentious red card at the start of the second half for midfielder James Jeggo. But the fact seventh-placed Livingston lost at Dundee United meant Lee Johnson’s side – who came under pressure in the closing stages – did not ultimately need a victory to seal their place in the top six.
MacLean made two changes to the Saints team that started the 2-0 defeat to Livingston last weekend as Melker Hallberg and Jamie Murphy dropped out to be replaced by Andy Considine and David Wotherspoon.
Hibs boss Johnson selected the same XI that started the 1-0 Edinburgh derby win over Hearts the previous weekend.
The hosts had the first notable attempt in the 12th minute when former Hibs player Drey Wright tested goalkeeper David Marshall with a firm low shot from 20 yards out.
A minute later, at the other end, Elie Youan burst down the left, cut inside and shot wide from the edge of the box.
Saints went ahead in the 25th minute when May’s well-struck overhead kick from just outside the six-yard box squirmed in past Marshall at the goalkeeper’s left-hand post after Hibs failed to properly clear a David Wotherspoon corner.
Hibs threatened an equaliser four minutes later but Kevin Nisbet saw his acrobatic volley easily held by Remi Matthews after Stevenson’s cross spun up to him eight yards out.
The leveller came in the 32nd minute when Stevenson took a touch and fired home his first league goal in just over five years from edge of the box after being set up by Youan.
Saints almost restored their lead two minutes into the second half when Wright burst clear down the right and fired in an angled shot that squirmed beyond the grasp of Marshall, but Stevenson was well placed to boot the loose ball clear with May waiting to pounce.
Hibs suffered a blow in the 48th minute when midfielder Jeggo was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Connor McLennan on the halfway line. Referee Craig Napier’s decision was upheld following a VAR review but the visitors appeared incensed as the Australian headed for the tunnel.
Despite being a man down, the visitors generally continued to hold their own although they were indebted to Marshall for keeping them level in the 65th minute when the goalkeeper dived down to his left to keep out a close-range shot from substitute Melker Hallberg following a McLennan cross from the left.
Saints had the majority of the pressure in the closing stages, with Hallberg and May both going close to a winner, but the Perth men had to settle for a draw that leaves them just two points clear of the relegation play-off spot.