Hearts debrief: Gnanduillet's positive performance, draw certainty, second-half domination
Hearts maintained their unbeaten start to the league campaign but dropped two points in doing so against St Johnstone. Joel Sked looks back at the 1-1 draw.
Player of the match
A player who seemed to split opinion was Armand Gnanduillet, filling in for the injured Liam Boyce. Twice he was denied by good saves from Zander Clark while he flashed a shot wide of the post after the break. He was, however, a key player for Hearts in the final third. He acted as a focal point to allow the midfield to build from, occupied St Johnstone defenders, brought the team up the park and linked play well. All his performance was missing was that elusive goal.
Josh Ginnelly’s goal, the team's first shot on target, was massive in getting Hearts level before the interval. It also provided the team with the platform to build on in the second half. Unfortunately, despite the team’s dominance, they couldn’t get a second which their play deserved, having pinned Saints back for long periods.
Steven McLean managed to infuriate both sets of fans during the 90 minutes. It is said that it usually means the referee has had a good game. This wasn’t quite the case with an inconsistency while he also inexplicably gave Hearts a throw-in when the ball quite clearly went out for a corner, angering the travelling support.
Benefit of hindsight
For all the tension, frustration and excitement, there was the feeling that this was likely heading for a draw before a ball had been kicked. Hearts have recorded the most draws in the SPFL out of the 42 teams so far in the league this campaign. In the previous 13 league meetings in Perth, there has been a draw six times. Both teams could have saved everyone the trouble and just agreed a draw beforehand and moved on.
Moment you may have missed
In the first half Gnanduillet slapped his hands against his thighs in frustration after another cross, this time from Barrie McKay, was too low for him to attack. He thrives off early high balls which he can get above opponents to meet, as he showed when meeting an early Michael Smith cross and one right before half-time when he was denied by an excellent Clark stop.