Match report as Josh Campbell's dramatic late winner sees Hibernian open their Scottish Premiership campaign with three points away at St Johnstone; Murray Davidson was earlier sent off after a late challenge on Ryan Porteous
Saturday 30 July 2022 21:00, UK
Josh Campbell scored a dramatic late winner as Hibernian eventually overcame 10-man St Johnstone to triumph 1-0 at McDiarmid Park.
Substitute Campbell met Ewan Henderson's deep corner at the far post to settle a contest that the away side had dominated.
Saints thought they had held onto a point, despite playing the last half hour with 10 men after Murray Davidson was shown a red card for a late tackle on Ryan Porteous, before the late drama ensured the points would be heading back to Edinburgh.
St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson had shuffled his pack following a disappointing Premier Sports Cup campaign, making five alterations from his side's last match against Ayr United, with new signings Remi Matthews and Alex
Mitchell making their debuts, while Ryan McGowan, Murray Davidson and Theo Bair came into the starting line-up.
Hibernian also suffered elimination in the League Cup and boss Johnson chose to make three changes from his team's last outing against Morton, with debuts for Marijan Cabraja and Elie Youan, and a first start for another summer signing Jair Tavares.
It was the away side who started the brighter and they had the first two efforts on goal, with Nohan Kenneh side-footing over from just outside the box in the ninth minute before Tavares saw a shot blocked as he cut inside a few moments later.
Bair had the first glimpse of goal for the hosts after a quarter of an hour but he was off balance in skewing a left-footed effort wide after Kenneh had been caught in possession.
Hibs were looking the more likely to score, however, and Henderson should have given them the lead as he volleyed a shot wide after being found in acres of space at the back post just before the half-hour mark.
Elias Melkersen and Tavares were a threat for the visitors and the latter was next to try his luck, shooting over as he cut in dangerously from the left but Hibs were unable to convert their dominance into any more clear-cut chances as the first half came to a close.
The game opened up as the second half began, with Jamie Murphy heading narrowly wide for Saints before Youan diverted a header just over from a Cabraja shot.
A crucial moment in the match then came in the 58th minute, as St Johnstone were reduced to 10 men.
Porteous nicked the ball past Davidson, who arrived at speed and caught the defender late, with referee Euan Anderson giving himself time before eventually opting to show a red card to the home captain.
Hibs looked to make their man advantage count, with Henderson shooting over on the turn before the hosts' Mitchell made a goal-saving interception to deny Hibernian substitute Christian Doidge a certain goal.
The home dugout were then left incensed as Cabraja was only shown a yellow card for a late lunge in a similar position to where Davidson had seen red moments earlier.
Graham Carey almost stunned the visitors against the run of play but David Marshall was well behind his rasping effort from distance.
In truth, Hibernian had struggled to create much since the red card, before the decisive moment late in the game.
Henderson's inswinging corners had been a threat all game, and his set-piece was met at the back post by Campbell, who stooped to head in to send the away support wild and seal the points.
St Johnstone travel to Fir Park next Saturday to play Motherwell
Hibernian will host Hearts in an Edinburgh derby on the Sunday.