Hearts debrief: James Hill's excellent debut, Barrie McKay's class, Kye Rowles handball escape

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A look back at yesterday’s match at Tynecastle as Hearts beat St Mirren 1-0 to go six points clear in third place in the cinch Premiership.

Player of the match

New signings who are attackers are always going to get extra attention, but it was defensive debutant James Hill who shone brightest in his first appearance for Hearts. Despite only playing twice this season before tonight, he looked fully comfortable on the right of the defensive three. Did exactly what was required at the back and showed off a terrific range of passing. Toby Sibbick also impressed alongside him, as did Zander Clark in goal.

Defining moment

James Hill applauds the fans after his Hearts debut. Picture: SNSJames Hill applauds the fans after his Hearts debut. Picture: SNS
James Hill applauds the fans after his Hearts debut. Picture: SNS

Barrie McKay’s goal has to be the winner for this. He was difference between the sides and underlined the levels which exist within the Scottish Premiership. St Mirren are a very good side and in the last two games they’ll feel very unfortunate to have only taken one point off Hearts. But they don’t possess a player who can do something as special as McKay produced to win this game. Very few teams in this league have, even in a campaign where he’s not at his best.

Ref watch

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Questions were asked of David Munro and the VAR team after the game when Kye Rowles was not punished for an alleged handball. The initial angle showed the player trying to turn away from the ball and keep his arm close. The angle from behind the goal, however, showed Rowles’ arm well away from his body when the ball struck. To be fair, with the handball rule as it is, even the refs can be forgiven for not knowing what’s going on.

Benefit of hindsight

With Hearts down to the bare bones a bit due to the number of injuries, and a couple of the new signings likely needing time to get up to speed, there’s not too much that can be questioned of the management despite the poor performance. Perhaps a move away from the 3-4-3 would have been in order after the 4-4-2 worked better in the second half at Paisley.

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