Bore draw at Easter Road
The Maltese, who covered for Scotland's striking officials, had no major decisions to make on a painless Saturday afternoon's work that saw him keep his cards in his pocket in the SPL clash at Easter Road. After a nondescript first half, Saints created several chances after the break but failed to properly test goalkeeper Mark Brown. St Johnstone striker Sam Parkin was a constant threat in the box but was unable to divert any headers on target. Lautier had his first real decision to make after just six minutes when he appeared to call it right when Colin Nish pushed over Saints defender Michael Duberry as the pair chased down a ball into the visitors' box. Hibs were enjoying the greater share of possession during the early exchanges and a neat move in the Saints half ended with John Rankin hitting a tame right-footed shot at goal from 18 yards after linking with Colin Nish. The home side had an injury scare in the 20th minute when towering centre-half Sol Bamba went down inside the box but the Ivory Coast international was able to continue after receiving treatment at the side of the pitch. In a match bereft of action at either end, the vocal Hibs fans were trying to encourage their team from the newly-built East Stand. That enthusiasm, however, did not seem to transfer to the pitch as both sides fought out an uninspiring first-half battle. Saints were having little luck trying to breach the Hibs rearguard while the home side were struggling to threaten in the final third with lone marksman Colin Nish often lacking support. Hibs midfielder Edwin De Graaf finally produced a bright moment to add some excitement to the clash when he struck a half-volley from outside the box that St Johnstone goalkeeper Peter Enckelman had to dive to save. Hibs made the brighter start to the second period but it was St Johnstone that squandered a great chance to open the scoring. Cleveland Taylor scooped a lofted cross into the box and the unmarked Colin Samuel had time to take a touch but he inexplicably tapped a harmless bounce ball into Mark Brown's arms. Danny Grainger then launched an inswinging left-footed free kick into the box from the touchline that was missed by Hibs goalkeeper Brown and Saints striker Sam Parkin but the home fans were relieved to see the ball bounce past the post. De Graaf did well to create space outside the area by nutmegging Duberry but his weak left-footed shot was easily collected by the goalkeeper. The second period had chances and they were falling for the away team. Parkin struck a looping header over the bar after connecting with Grainger's free-kick. Parkin went close again for Saints in the 70th minute, powering a header over the bar from Grainger's corner. The Hibs fans were becoming frustrated by striker Nish's ineffective performance and a section booed as he was replaced by defender David Stephens seconds later, with manager Colin Calderwood having no other forwards at his disposal. The fans also made it clear they were not in favour of captain Ian Murray's withdrawal from the team to be replaced by David Wotherspoon. After illustrating his threat in the final third with his dangerous deliveries, Grainger then exhibited his defensive attributes as he made a timely block tackle just as Stephens was a about to pull the trigger from eight yards with Enckleman grounded.