Hibernian moved up to fourth in the Premiership despite another frustrating 0-0 draw by St Johnstone in front of an outstanding crowd on the road to Easter.
Almost 20,000 fans crammed into the stadium, including 1,900 away supporters, after the Leith side made tickets available for just £5.
But there was a distinct lack of action at both ends of the park as the Hibs, who have now drawn 0-0 in their last three games, failed to make their territorial advantage count.
With Hibs missing 11 first-team players, there was little for the home fans to get excited about during a turgid first half.
The Saints’ defense remained firm during the early stages as they were forced to make blocks to protect Zander Clark from shots.
Saints offered a narrow lead but former Hibs midfielder Melker Hallberg fired an effort from 25 yards after striker Callum Hendry charged in a poor pass from Josh Campbell.
The Hibs stepped up their pressing late in the half. Christian Doidge should have done better with a free header from 10 yards out but the striker failed to make contact with Sylvester Jasper’s cross.
Saints keeper Clark was then called on to make a double save in the 41st minute.
Chris Cadden’s ferocious rebound effort was blocked by the goaltender and Clark went big to block Doidge’s shot on the rebound.
Cammy MacPherson was lucky to avoid being sent off in the 56th minute after the Saints midfielder fell high on Jake Doyle-Hayes in the middle of the park.
The Hibs players demanded a red card but referee Craig Napier took his time before drawing a yellow.
The Saints then overturned a penalty appeal for Campbell’s clumsy challenge on Hendry.
Hibs brought on Scott Allan and Elias Melkersen and the pair combined as the hosts were on the verge of a breakthrough.
Great skill down the left flank saw Jasper find Allan in the six-yard box and the midfielder attacked Melkersen, but the Norwegian’s close-range effort was blocked.
Melkersen, making his home debut, then saw a deflected practice loop just above Clark’s crossbar.
The Saints could have taken all three points late in the game, but Ryan Porteous made a great block to prevent Hendry’s shot.
Maloney urges Hibs to be ruthless after another lackluster draw
Hibernian manager Shaun Maloney:
“We have to be more ruthless with the opportunities we create and even in the areas where we come in, we have to be more ruthless.
“If we’re going to have serious aspirations to finish in the top six, top four this year and keep going, then I have to demand more than what I got in the second half.
“We are very young. Asking this team to really push for fourth place is a big ask. They need more senior players.
“They gave me everything, the effort didn’t fail. It’s just that bit of quality in the last third and in the second half we lost control a bit.
“We still haven’t given up a lot of opportunities, we have to take that as a positive because it’s the foundation of a team.
“But we are playing at home and I wanted to give the fans a bit more than what they got in the second half.
“We have 10 injured, that’s a lot but I don’t want to keep using him.”
Davidson: ‘No team deserved to win’
St Johnstone manager Callum Davidson:
“It was one of those matches that felt a bit like a boxing match. Both teams were arguing, but neither team was able to land any punches.
“I thought we both tried to try and get into good areas, but the quality in the final third let both teams down.
“We had to make three changes due to forced injuries. I was almost going to knock Shaun Rooney off the stand in the second half to play at right-back!
“It was one of those games and, in the end, I’m quite happy with the point.”
Hibs will visit Motherwell in the Scottish Cup quarter-final on Sunday March 13 at 12.30pm, while St Johnstone host Motherwell in the Scottish Premiership on Saturday March 19 at 3pm.