Maroon Memories: Unbeaten run stretches to six

Jamie Hamill converted the penalty for a 1-0 lead
Jamie Hamill converted the penalty for a 1-0 lead
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Hearts extended their unbeaten run to six games with a comfortable win over St Mirren at Tynecastle.

The defeat ended St Mirren’s four-match unbeaten run on the road and edged Hearts two points above Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premier League table into fourth place.

Hearts boss Paulo Sergio made just one planned change to the team that drew 1-1 at Inverness the Saturday previous, with midfielder Medhi Taouil fully fit after a groin injury and Arvydas Novikovas dropped to the bench.

However, Andy Webster injured himself in the warm-up and was replaced at the last minute with Eggert Jonsson in the starting line-up, while St Mirren were unchanged from the side held to a goalless draw by St Johnstone in Paisley the previous weekend.

St Mirren’s Steven Thompson produced a decent save from Jamie MacDonald in the 11th minute with a shot from 25 yards out in the first real chance of the match, then Lee Mair blocked a shot from Ryan Stevenson at the other end.

With 20 minutes played, Stephen Elliott made an attempt on the St Mirren goal from close range, but his shot cleared the bar, then Taouil tested keeper Craig Samson with a 20-yard shot that was tipped over the bar.

Illias Haddad almost opened the scoring for the visitors in the 33rd minute with a narrow-angle header from the right-hand side of the Hearts six-yard box that inched across the face of goal.

He turned villain two minutes before the break when he felled Marius Zaliukas inside the St Mirren penalty area and referee Charlie Richmond had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Jamie Hamill scored his second goal of the season when he stepped up and converted with cool confidence to give the hosts a valuable lead at the interval – but not before David Obua was denied by Samson seconds before the whistle.

After the restart, Hearts piled on the pressure to extend their slender lead with St Mirren pressing equally hard for a leveller.

Shortly before the hour mark, substitute Kenny McLean squandered a free-kick for St Mirren from 20 yards out, sending the ball sailing wide and high into the stand.

Five minutes later, he tried to find the net with a spectacular overhead scissor-kick, but the attempt rose over the bar.

Hearts’ second arrived in the 69th minute from a St Mirren own-goal after Mair threw himself at the ball in the six-yard area and headed it into his own net, with Ryan Stevenson and Steven Elliot keen to claim the credit.

Stevenson almost made it three, with a shot from the edge of the St Mirren penalty area that took a deflection and bounced out for a corner.

Hearts: MacDonald, Grainger, Obua, Zaliukas, Hamill, Jonsson, Black, Stevenson, Taouil, Mrowiec, Elliot.