JOHN McGLYNN had nothing but praise for his Hearts side, despite the disappointment of a 2-0 defeat to St Mirren.
The Tynecastle side had travelled to Paisley looking to redeem themselves after defeat to Dundee before the international break but suffered the same fate.
They again created numerous chances in front of goal, but failed to turn any of their opportunities into goals and that cost them dear.
A stunning goal from Jim Goodwin and a strike from Lewis Guy sent Hearts back along the M8 empty-handed and still looking for only their second victory since the opening-day win over St Johnstone.
McGlynn has made no secret of the fact that he is still scouring the market for a free agent who can come in and fill the gap up front, and his plans will not have changed on this evidence. He made changes in an attempt to freshen things up in attack, dropping John Sutton to the bench and playing Callum Paterson up front – a role the 17-year-old has filled for Hearts’ youth sides.
While Paterson certainly got himself into the right positions and provided a good physical presence, there was again to be no joy for the 879 Hearts supporters who made the trip west.
McGlynn believes Paterson could do a job for the Jambos as a lone striker and singled him out for extra praise for his efforts. He said: “I wasn’t disappointed with the performance. No, not at all. I was disappointed with the result.
“I thought the performance was really good and that we should have been two goals up by half-time.
“Callum Paterson had a great opportunity – and if you go in front early in the game that makes a huge difference.
“Goals change games, as we saw.
“If you get a goal, you have more confidence and you have something to hold on to.
“Callum had a couple of opportunities and caused them all sorts of problems.
“That’s not a slight on him or me having a go at him, because he actually did really well to get into those sorts of positions.
“If they had gone in, then it’s a totally different ball game.”
It was true that Hearts did get off to the better start after Goodwin had picked up an early booking with just over a minute on the clock as he tried to stop a surging run from Darren Barr.
The visitors’ first chance to edge in front came on eight minutes when Stevenson picked out Paterson and the youngster raced to latch on to the through ball, only for Samson to show why he was called into the Scotland squad in midweek by pulling off a cracking save.
The home side proved they carried a real threat when Steven Thompson’s ball cut out the Hearts defence to find David van Zanten on the right and the former Hibs defender did well to fire over a deep cross that reached Paul McGowan, but the Saints player could only send his downward header wide of Jamie MacDonald’s right-hand post.
Hearts came close again when Arvydas Novikovas got the break of the ball against Marc McAusland, darted in to claim possession and raced in towards goal, cutting it back across the face of goal for Paterson whose close-range shot was only denied by a touch from Paul Dummett.
MacDonald had to be on his toes just after the half hour mark to get down quickly to his right and block an excellent diving header from Lewis Guy.
But Saints did beat the keeper before the break, Goodwin producing a spectacular effort from 35 yards as it seemed to catch MacDonald out, the ball spinning into the net at pace. Things got worse for Hearts after the break when Saints went two up, Thompson’s ball from the left being turned home by Guy for one of the easiest goals he’ll ever score.
Hearts were unlucky not to pull one back when Danny Grainger floated a corner in from the right and it looked as though Stevenson would nod the ball into the back of the net, but Samson again did enough to put the former Ayr United man off.
McGlynn had seen enough at that point and made his first switch, bringing Sutton off the bench to replace Barr, but the visitors failed to create any clear opportunities.
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon was delighted to take all three points in such a comfortable manner after admitting that Hearts have proven to be difficult opposition in the past. He said: “It was very pleasing. All week we had spoken about it being a test for us collectively
because we hadn’t beaten Hearts for a while.
“The games that we have played against them recently have always been close and it was about us going to that next level. We knew what it
was going to take mentally and I thought that we did that fantastically well.
“To be fair to Hearts, they got out of the traps very well.
“You’ll see that if you look at the stats, with the number of corners that they won. But I thought we handled that admirably.”