Hearts reaction: Chants at the SFA, red card injustice, fans' altercation and Shankland's goal target
Two weeks in succession Hearts players have been red-carded for offences which did not warrant a punishment so severe. Travelling fans chanting “F*** the SFA” after Peter Haring’s dismissal at St Mirren on Saturday was therefore no great surprise.
Their team had been 2-0 down at half-time but Josh Ginnelly’s goal made it 2-1 before the Austrian was sent off for serious foul play in a sliding challenge on Mark O’Hara. Hearts today lodged an appeal after choosing not to challenge Alex Cochrane’s disputed red against Celtic the previous week. This time, the Hearts support were dancing on the track in a fit of delirium by full-time after Lawrence Shankland’s stoppage-time penalty equaliser.
Referee David Dickinson left them outraged with another contentious ordering off – VAR reviewed the incident and agreed – yet Ginnelly and Shankland helped flip their emotions during a memorable fightback. Whether it is enough in the race to finish third in the Premiership remains to be seen with Aberdeen visiting Tynecastle Park this weekend.
If the away supporters spilling onto the pitch was amusing, so too was the reaction of some teenage St Mirren “ultras” who jumped their wall to confront invaders from Edinburgh. Stewards intervened as fans hesitated to charge at one another and turn the incident into a proper 1980s-style scrap, but the bravery on show brought smiles to many faces.
Shankland’s 26th goal of the season earned Hearts a point after defeat seemed inevitable. “I’ve had a good record from the spot this year. Obviously, it came at a big moment, really late in the game, but it just required a cool head. Luckily enough, I managed to score again,” said the captain.
“Towards the end of the game I hadn’t really had a sniff, then a chance fell to me and I just about hit the airport with my left foot. I was thinking that half-chance might be my lot but thankfully Josh made a great run and their guy [Ryan Flynn] banged into him to give us the penalty. Josh also got our first goal so he was key to our comeback. In terms of the performance, it wasn’t great on our part. We’ve played much better than that through the season.”
With three games remaining, Hearts’ priority is winning this weekend and hoping to overhaul Aberdeen’s five-point advantage by the end of the final round of fixtures. Shankland’s personal target is 30 goals. “It’s been a good season for me in terms of goal scoring and I’m looking to keep that going. Don’t get me wrong, 26 is a good number but I won’t be content to rest on that,” he said.
“There are three games left so, hopefully, I can kick on and get a few more. The most important total is the points on the board and I don’t care who gets the goals. Josh got our first in Paisley and, honestly, I’m delighted when anyone else scores. Football’s a team game and we all need to chip in but if I can personally help out by adding a few more then I’ll be happy.”