St Johnstone will head into the Scottish Premiership play-offs after ending the league season with an abject defeat at the hands of Hibernian.
Callum Davidson said the game was “irrelevant”, and his side were overwhelmed as Paul McGinn’s effort and a James Scott hat trick secured Hibs’ first home win since February and ensured they finish the season eighth.
The Perth side now prepare to face Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Friday and next Monday as they bid to retain their top-flight status.
- Reaction & as it happened
Six changes to the starting line-up meant Davidson’s pre-match comments came as little surprise. Goalkeeper Zander Clark was left out of the squad entirely, whilst captain Liam Gordon was on the bench.
It seemed his mind games might have worked for the majority of the first-half. St Johnstone had the better of it, finding pockets of space in Hibs territory and passing it around nicely, but there was little to threaten Matt Macey’s goal.
Josh Doig had a good chance to open the scoring for Hibs when he connected with Joe Newell’s cross, but the full-back poked wide from six yards out.
Hibs would take their next chance, though. After a corner was cleared, Elias Melkersen nodded back into the area and Ryan Porteous and McGinn both swung at it. The strike ended up in the net, with both defenders wheeling away taking the acclaim.
That goal came a minute before half-time, and the next would come three minutes after the break.
A cross was whipped in from the right, with the ball bouncing off the thigh of the unsuspecting Scott, who found himself on the scoresheet for the second time in two games having failed to score since joining on loan from Hull City until midweek.
Scott meant his second goal and Hibs’ third, though. Again, Hibs exploited the right flank with Harry Clarke slipping Newell in. His low cross found Scott, who did well to make a yard of space for himself and roll underneath Elliot Parish.
Hibs should have had a fourth soon after. Scott was set free, shifting the ball onto his left and firing at goal. Parish did well to save but the ball fell kindly to Melkersen, who managed to divert wide of an open goal. A miss of the season candidate.
Scott completed the rout with a header across the goalkeeper two minutes from time, though, to make sure he would take the match ball home.
Man of the match – James Scott
What did we learn?
St Johnstone’s first-half performance might have given their fans confidence. Their second-half showing would have left them with none.
Although Davidson was keen to downplay the importance of this match, it will undoubtedly be a blow to morale to see his squad swept aside so easily by a much-maligned Hibs team.
The Perth side created a handful of chances but barely looked like scoring – a problem that has plagued them all season and looks unlikely to change.
The Hibs fans will have taken some encouragement from a clinical performance, albeit with a departing player to the fore.
Four debutants – all aged 17 – provide hope for the future. Jacob Blaney, Oscar MacIntyre, Murray Aiken and Robbie Hamilton will all remember this day forever.
Whilst Hibs turn their attentions to finding a new manager, St Johnstone prepare to face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the play-off final double-leg. The first leg is on Friday, 20 May (19:45 BST) with highlights on BBC Scotland from 22:30.
How to play
Rate players out of 10 throughout or after the game. The rater will close 30 minutes after the final whistle.
- St JohnstoneSt Johnstone
- Match Stats
- Live Text
- 6McGinnSubstituted forBlaneyat 86′minutes
- 24McGregorBooked at 54mins
- 5PorteousSubstituted forMacIntyreat 77′minutes
- 2ClarkeSubstituted forAikenat 67′minutes
- 80HendersonSubstituted forDelferriereat 85′minutes
- 34MelkersenSubstituted forHamiltonat 76′minutes
- 16MahonSubstituted forO’Halloranat 57′minutes
- 19RooneyBooked at 55minsSubstituted forGordonat 76′minutes
- 15GilmourBooked at 58mins
- 34ButterfieldSubstituted forCraigat 76′minutes
- David Dickinson
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Hibernian 4, St. Johnstone 0.
Second Half ends, Hibernian 4, St. Johnstone 0.
Foul by Glenn Middleton (St. Johnstone).
Josh Doig (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! Hibernian 4, St. Johnstone 0. James Scott (Hibernian) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Josh Doig with a cross.
Foul by Cameron MacPherson (St. Johnstone).
James Scott (Hibernian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Darren McGregor.
Substitution, Hibernian. Jacob Blaney replaces Paul McGinn.
Substitution, Hibernian. Allan Delferriere replaces Ewan Henderson.
Daniel Cleary (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Murray Aiken (Hibernian).
Offside, St. Johnstone. Daniel Cleary tries a through ball, but Nadir Çiftçi is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Murray Aiken (Hibernian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Foul by Charlie Gilmour (St. Johnstone).
Ewan Henderson (Hibernian) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Corner, Hibernian. Conceded by Liam Craig.
Attempt saved. Charlie Gilmour (St. Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daniel Cleary.
Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Murray Aiken (Hibernian).