Maroon Memories: Saints spurn chances but Millar takes his

Hearts' John Millar battles with Paul Lambert
Hearts' John Millar battles with Paul Lambert
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If their latest success was less than sparkling, Hearts are not the first team to discover that winning is not always about superiority.

St Mirren have spent much of their history demonstrating this disturbing truism about football.

It would not be strictly accurate to describe them as superior this time, but nor were they inferior.

They were entitled to at least a share of the points, but their luck near goal continues to be appalling.

Of course, they could do with some sharper finishing in that area, but sometimes the gods decree that the ball ain’t going in, however well it is hit, placed, hammered or coaxed.

Ask young Kevin McGowne, the Saints full back who had scored his first goal for the club in their heroic victory over Rangers at Ibrox a few weeks earlier.

On that occasion McGowne scored the only goal with a blistering shot from around 30 yards.

Against Hearts he seemed to have taken advantage of St Mirren’s best constructed opening of the day when Robert Aitken, James Charnley and David Elliot combined cleverly on the left to lay the ball across goal into his path.

McGowne hit it accurately and low and it seemed the game was back on level terms.

However, the large figure of Henry Smith had not been removed from the scene and he dived low to grasp the ball and effectively secure the points for his team.

John Millar had a bit to do with it, too, having scored the Tynecastle goal midway through the second half.

The young midfield man had no doubts as to his right to being on the score-sheet, although some felt that the original header by substitute Ian Ferguson had crossed the line after hitting the underside of the bar.

Referee Willie Young appeared to agree with Millar, however, as he did not signal a goal until Millar’s header knocked the rebound over the line.

Either way, it was the goal Hearts badly needed, especially as they had scorned the few other chances they made.

Dave McPherson, who could have legitimate claims to being the top man of the day, made a mess of a great chance in the first half, and John Robertson also sent the ball wide when he would have been expected to score.

St Mirren had fine service out of Roy Aitken, Jim Beattie and Julian Broddle, while Graeme Hogg did a fine job as deputy for Hearts’ Craig Levein.

Referee Young did some good things but also was guilty of a wee bit zealous attention to duty. Six bookings in a match which was never ugly seems a bit excessive, with one being handed out to Campbell Money after it was all over.

Hearts: Smith, McLaren, McKinlay, Hogg, Mackay, McPherson, Crabbe, Wright, Baird, Millar, Robertson.