Hibs and Buddies share spoils
Last Updated: 03/03/12 6:40pm
Samson: Kept hosts at bay
Hibernian eased their Scottish Premier League relegation worries in a 0-0 stalemate with draw specialists St Mirren at Easter Road.
Buddies goalkeeper Craig Samson saved a first-half James McPake header and second-half shots in quick succession from Leigh Griffiths and substitute David Wotherspoon as 11th-placed Hibs moved four points clear of Dunfermline at the foot of the table.
Saints - now without an SPL win in nine matches, the last five of them draws - were lively on the break without ever testing Hibs goalkeeper Graham Stack, but claimed a point due to a strong defensive display, coupled with Hibs' blunt attack.
Hibs' record of one win in the capital in a year - September's defeat of St Johnstone - has contributed to their current predicament but Pat Fenlon's side moved further clear of the Pars, who lost 2-0 to Motherwell.
Four of St Mirren's last five games have been goalless, the exception being last week's 1-1 draw with Aberdeen, and their last league win was against Rangers on Christmas Eve. Hope of a top-six finish must now be faint.
Hibs were without Tom Soares, whose double helped secure last week's 3-1 win at Kilmarnock, due to a dead leg, with Ivan Sproule starting in his place.
After Steven Thomson sliced wide from Nigel Hasselbaink's cut-back, Hibs went on the attack.
Leigh Griffiths shot across the face of goal from an acute angle after ghosting in behind Jim Goodwin before the hosts went close again.
Captain McPake met a corner with a powerful header, but Samson's firm hand turned the ball away.
St Mirren were on the defensive and Sproule saw an effort from the edge of the box deflect out for a corner, which Francomb whipped in and McPake headed off target.
It was the second time the Hibs defender had risen unchallenged to meet a set-piece and a warning to the Buddies.
Goodwin and Roy O'Donovan had an off-the-ball altercation, both booked after the visiting captain appeared to use a forceful elbow after taking exception for the Hibs striker challenging Samson for a through ball.
Had O'Donovan made more of the incident, Goodwin could have faced sterner punishment than a yellow card from referee Willie Collum.
After the restart, O'Donovan avoided a second caution for a tackle from behind on Murray before Hibs pressed forward, with Isaiah Osbourne, Griffiths and Francomb each having shots blocked.
Murray dragged down O'Donovan on the edge of the visitors' area, presenting Hibs with a free-kick 25 yards out in front of goal.
Griffiths' left-foot strike hit the wall before he volleyed a rebound into the floor which bounced high and fell for O'Donovan. However, the Irish striker could not get much of a touch and Samson saved.
St Mirren striker Steven Thompson appealed in desperation for a penalty when chasing a lost cause after being legitimately shoved off the ball. It was an illustration of how few chances the visitors were creating.
Jorge Claros drove narrowly wide for Hibs before Samson was again called into action, making a double save.
First he parried a Griffiths' effort and then turned substitute Wotherspoon's follow up around the post.
Kenny McLean blasted over on the counter attack after speeding beyond the Hibs defence as Saints missed an opportunity to steal all three points.
Griffiths fired wildly over as Hibs finished on the attack but the match ended goalless.