Graham Carey’s second-half strike proved decisive as St Johnstone’s resurgence under Craig Levein continued with a 1-0 victory over Hibernian at McDiarmid Park.
The midfielder seized on a mistake from Easter Road midfielder Dylan Levitt in the 57th minute to fire home and lift Saints from 11th to eighth in the cinch Premiership.
It was a third win in seven matches for Levein, who took the reins early last month when the Perth men sat bottom of the table.
The Saints boss made two changes to the side that drew 1-1 at Motherwell the previous weekend as James Brown and Chris Kane dropped to the bench, with 16-year-old Fran Franczak – making his first start – and Max Kucheriavyi added to the line-up.
Hibs boss Nick Montgomery also made two tweaks to the team that won at Livingston as Lewis Miller and Jimmy Jeggo replaced Rory Whittaker and the suspended Joe Newell.
The hosts started brightly and DJ Jaiyesimi headed wide from a Franczak cross in the third minute before Kucheriavyi saw a tame low shot from the edge of the box easily saved by Marshall.
Hibs’ only attempt of the first half came in the ninth minute when Elie Youan curled a shot just wide of the far post from inside box.
Saints thought they had gone ahead in the 27th minute but DJ Jaiyesimi was deemed to be impeding goalkeeper David Marshall from an offside position as Kucheriavyi’s header from a Matt Smith corner was inadvertently diverted into the net by Hibs midfielder Levitt.
Following a first half of few opportunities at either end, things livened up after the break. A minute into the second period, Hibs forward Martin Boyle curled a free-kick just beyond the far post from wide on the left.
But Saints started to get themselves on top and Kucheriavyi saw a low shot well saved by Marshall in the 54th minute after good work by Jaiyesimi to set him up.
The Ukrainian midfielder should have scored a minute later but he was denied again by the Hibs keeper after being picked out on the edge of the six-yard box by a Tony Gallagher cross.
Saints made the breakthrough in the 57th minute when Levitt, while attempting to play out from his own box after a short goal-kick, passed the ball straight to Carey, who thundered a powerful angled strike in off the inside of the post from 20 yards out.
Marshall made further saves to prevent Franczak and substitute Kane increasing the hosts’ advantage.
On a miserable day for the visitors, there was a minor consolation in the 88th minute when striker Dylan Vente had a red card overturned following a VAR review but they rarely looked like finding a way back into the match as they slipped from fourth to sixth in the table.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country