St Mirren 1-1 Hearts: Red card drama as Jambos fight back in Paisley

Robert Snodgrass’ first Hearts goal was the highlight of a spirited fightback at St Mirren as the Edinburgh club extended their recent unbeaten run to six matches.

Ryan Strain’s early deflected free-kick put Saints ahead but after the interval Snodgrass sent a curling effort through a posse of bodies and into the far corner of the net. St Mirren’s Marcus Fraser received a late red card for stamping on the Hearts substitute Jorge Grant which brought a sour ending to the afternoon.

In the first of a double header between these clubs, a draw set the tone for next Friday’s meeting at Tynecastle Park. St Mirren physically dominated Hearts in the first half but the Edinburgh side regrouped and recovered with notable determination in the second half. They pressed and probed at the home defence into the final moments without being able to force the desired winning goal.

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This was far from a straightforward encounter for Hearts even before a ball was kicked. St Mirren sat joint-fourth in the Premiership table at kick-off, just five point behind their opponents in third. With Stephen Kingsley still absent since suffering concussion at Dundee United on Christmas Eve, and Andy Halliday nursing his own head knock from the New Year Edinburgh derby, right-footed winger Alan Forrest lined up at left wing-back for Hearts.

St Mirren missed the suspended Ethan Erhahon but moved ahead inside four minutes. From Hearts’ perspective, the damage was self-inflicted. Snodgrass’ careless pass landed with Curtis Main, he fed Keanu Baccus who was then fouled by his Australia international colleague Cammy Devlin 22 yards from goal. Strain’s free-kick deflected off Toby Sibbick’s head and evaded the dive of visiting goalkeeper Zander Clark to land in the net.

St Mirren continued harrassing Snodgrass and others around him in maroon, thereby making it difficult for Hearts to build any rhythm. Persistent fouling by the hosts also irked the away manager Robbie Neilson and he received a yellow card from referee Chris Graham for protesting. Baccus joined him in the book after he was judged to have dived inside the penalty area going past Alex Cochrane, and then Barrie McKay was also cautioned for simulation.

Alex Greive volleyed substitute Ryan Flynn’s cross high into the stand in first-half stoppage time when he ought to have done better. He also failed to control Main’s low ball across goal when the chance to put Saints 2-0 ahead was glaring. The Paisley side were in control and Hearts – despite 78 per cent possession in the opening half – badly needed a more aggressive approach.

Clark parried Main’s drive just prior to the equaliser on 48 minutes. Snodgrass’ curling cross from the right arced past everybody in the penalty box including the St Mirren goalkeeper Trevor Carson. He could not react quick enough as the ball bounced into the far corner of his goal, and the 1,403 travelling fans acclaimed a much-needed leveller.

Robert Snodgrass celebrates with Lawrence Shankland after scoring his first Hearts goal against St Mirren.

Lawrence Shankland’s header on the hour was collected by Carson, however St Mirren remained a threat on the break and Main again stung Clark’s palms on 76 minutes. Fraser’s dismissal came in stoppage-time following a VAR review. Referee Graham agreed that he had stamped on Grant and ordered the defender off. After a tense closing period the final whistle confirmed a point apiece.

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St Mirren (3-5-2): Carson; Fraser, Shaughnessy, Dunne; Strain (Flynn 18), Baccus (Kiltie 46), Gogic, O’Hara, Tanser; Grieve (Olusanya 78 (Taylor 90)), Main.

Hearts (3-4-2-1): Clark; Sibbick, Rowles, Cochrane; M Smith, Devlin (Grant 80), Snodgrass, Forrest (Humphrys 68); Shankland, McKay; Ginnelly.

Referee: Chris Graham.

Attendance: 7,249.