Joel Sked gives his take on Hearts' draw in Perth.
Stopped the rot
Many Hearts fans would have taken a point coming into the match. McDiarmid Park is a notoriously difficult place to come, especially for the Jambos. They haven’t scored in their last five league visits to Perth and haven’t beaten the Saints at their home ground in any competition in their last ten attempts. Add in the fact that Hearts came into the fixture on a six game winless run with the only goal coming from an opponent meant confidence wasn't high among the travelling support. There will be disappointment that the team let the lead slip twice, especially with the nature of St Johnstone's winner. Yet, Levein's men scored twice, once from open play, against a side which had kept six consecutive clean sheet and earned a respectable draw without playing that well. It gives something to build on.
Supporting cast need to step up
So much has been made of the injuries to key players. It is understandable because four players who could be classed as 'first name on the team sheet' have been missing. Yet, you can only wallow for so long. Craig Levein brought 18 players in this season to give the team more depth and more options. Players are being given more minutes than perhaps Levein would have liked but that shouldn't stop constructive criticism. In recent weeks players have not been of the level and underwhelmed. Olly Lee's form has dropped and he didn't cover himself in glory at McDiarmid Park, while Sean Clare, who arrived with a big reputation, is finding his feet too slowly. Then there is the curious case of Demetri Mitchell. The Manchester United left-back-cum-winger was a genuine coup in the summer but has failed to get going and was subbed for a right-back on Wednesday evening. These players are required to step up to the mark between no and the Edinburgh derby on 29 December.
That being said, there is a an obvious nervousness about this Hearts team. Having not won in six such a feeling easily festers and grows the longer the run goes on. Despite taking the lead though an excellent Arnuad Djoum header they allowed St Johnstone to get back into the game easily and quickly before an error-strewn remainder of the half. The tempo and clarity in the passing has vanished, epitomised by Olly Lee. Passing moves are either too safe and sideways or misdirected, while indecision is at the forefront of any counter-attacks. The confidence and ease at which players made decisions in the early part of the season has eroded with players thinking twice.