Hearts report and player ratings v St Mirren as the Tynecastle men rue a late moment in Paisley
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Ryan Strain’s early goal was enough to settle this affair and keep St Mirren second in the cinch Premiership table. They secured a 1-0 victory over a Hearts team lacking the incisiveness to garner a point from their visit to Paisley.
An injury to Nathaniel Atkinson will be a concern for the Edinburgh club, who dropped to sixth in the table on goal difference as a result of this defeat. They were left to rue a late chance for Lawrence Shankland which was expertly saved by Zach Hemming in the St Mirren goal. Stephen Robinson, the Saints manager, now sees his side just two points behind league leaders Celtic following a determined display which might have yielded more goals.
Hearts found themselves 1-0 down inside seven minutes when Ryan Strain converted Scott Tanser’s low cross into an empty net. Centre-back Frankie Kent let the ball run past him at the near post, presumably due to a shout from goalkeeper Zander Clark, and Strain had a straightforward finish. Clark appeared to apologise to Kent in the aftermath.
St Mirren’s aggressive approach led to Hearts midfielders Calem Nieuwenhof and Cammy Devlin leaving the field for treatment to cuts on their faces early on. Clark saved Toyosi Olusanya’s effort on 22 minutes before Kent blocked Greg Kiltie’s follow-up effort on the goal line. Olusanya then appeared to strike Lawrence Shankland in the face and was only issued a yellow card by referee Nick Walsh.
The hosts continued creating the better scoring chances and saw a second goal disallowed for a foul on the half-hour mark. Olusanya’s physical presence up front was one of their major threats. Hearts struggled to build proper attacking impetus during the first 45 minutes despite controlling possession. St Mirren’s defensive organisation crowded them out on several occasions.
They were far more purposeful after the interval and would have equalised when defender Kye Rowles rose to power a header at goal from Stephen Kingsley’s corner. Greg Kiltie was in place to block on the goal line, though. St Mirren then had goalkeeper Hemming to thank for preserving their lead when he pushed Devlin’s shot just wide of the post following an intelligent through ball from Shankland.
Substitute Mikael Mandron saw a strike disallowed for a foul but Hearts were attacking relentlessly entering the final 15 minutes. St Mirren substitute Alex Greive thought he had made it 2-0 but a VAR review for offside thwarted him. Then, in the sixth minute of stoppage-time, Shankland fastened on to Liam Boyce’s head flick and found himself through on goal with the clearest chance of the afternoon. Hemming spread himself to deflect the striker’s shot clear and the final scoreline read 1-0.
Here are the Hearts player ratings from Paisley:
GK: Zander Clark
6 – Seemed to apologise to Frankie Kent after St Mirren took the lead, presumably for shouting then failing to collect Scott Tanser’s cross.
RB: Nathaniel Atkinson
6 – Tried to get forward down the right, had limited success, was stretchered off near half-time after appearing to fall awkwardly in a tussle with Tanser. Replaced by Toby Sibbick.
RCB: Frankie Kent
7 – Left the cross which led to the opening goal after what seemed like a shout from his goalkeeper. His block on the goal line prevented Greg Kiltie putting Saints 2-0 ahead.
LCB: Kye Rowles
6 – His towering second-half header would have produced the equaliser for Hearts had it not struck Kiltie on the goal line. Up against a difficult customer in Olutoysi Olusanya.
LB: Stephen Kingsley
7 – Steady as usual at left-back. Tried to probe further forward and support attacks where possible.
CM: Beni Baningime
6 – A surprise inclusion from the start as he tries to regain momentum following more than a year of injury troubles. Taken off on 64 minutes.
CM: Calem Nieuwenhof
6 – Needed treatment in the dressing room for an early cut to his chin. Neat and tidy in midfield without exerting too much influence on proceedings.
AMR: Cammy Devlin
6 – Given an unusual advanced role on the right under instruction to tuck in and allow his fellow Australian Atkinson to get forward from full-back. After a cut to his head on 15 minutes, he played the rest of the afternoon sporting a bandage.
AMC: Liam Boyce
7 – The Northern Irishman’s touches and flicks were about the most creative aspect of Hearts’ play in Paisley. Tried to drive his team forward during a much-improved second half.
AML: Kenneth Vargas
6 – Quiet day for the Costa Rican. His pace troubles many defenders in the Premiership and, once he works on the strength to hold them off, he should become an asset.
ST: Lawrence Shankland
6 – Clearly frustrated at the lack of scoring opportunities. Played a delightful ball through to Devlin on 75 minutes but St Mirren goalkeeper Zach Hemming pushed the midfielder’s shot wide. Should have equalised at the death.
SUB: Toby Sibbick (for Atkinson, 45 mins)
6 – Some nice touches and passes from the Englishman, who was told to attack at every opportunity and made a good fist of doing so before moving inside to centre-back.
SUB: Odel Offiah (for Rowles, 64 mins)
5 – Returned from injury and played mostly in the opposition half as Hearts attacked.
SUB: Alan Forrest (for Baningime, 64 mins)
4 – Looked lively. One burst of pace down the left flank left Strain trailing in his wake.
SUB: Jorge Grant (for Devlin, 76 mins)
4 – Didn’t get much time to make a difference.