St Johnstone 0-0 Hearts: Ten-man Jambos hold on for a point

Hearts held on for a point against St Johnstone despite 16-year-old Harry Cochrane's dismissal 12 minutes from full-time.

Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 3:59 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd December 2017, 4:37 pm
Hearts' Prince Buaben challenges David Wotherspoon of St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park
Hearts' Prince Buaben challenges David Wotherspoon of St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park

The youngster had been booked for pulling Chris Millar's shirt before a sliding challenge on Blair Alston earned him a second yellow card followed by a red.

He will now be suspended for Wednesday's meeting with Hibs at Tynecastle. The visitors closed the game out with ten men to extend their impressive unbeaten run to seven games ahead of the Edinburgh derby. Given seven years have passed since Hearts' last league win at McDiarmid Park, they will be fairly content with this result.

Hearts arrived unbeaten in Perth with three wins in a row behind them. Manager Craig Levein bravely started two 16-year-olds in Cochrane and Anthony McDonald. St Johnstone had won at Hibs, Hamilton and Rangers in their last five outings and unsurprisingly named the same line-up which won at Ibrox last weekend.

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The blustery overhead conditions in Perth weren't conducive to neat passing movements. As such, a turgid affair evolved with many aimless long balls from both teams. St Johnstone's Alston had two efforts at goal during an unremarkable first 30 minutes. One was blocked by Hearts midfielder Don Cowie and the other gathered by goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin at the second attempt.

McLaughlin then prevented a certain opening goal on 35 minutes when he pushed Joe Shaughnessy's header over the crossbar. The second half saw rain added to the swirling wind, hence there was little improvement in the quality of fare but scoring chances started arriving.

Defending became increasinly difficult and that almost led to Hearts taking the lead as the hour approached. Steven Anderson badly sliced Michael Smith's cross, but the St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark was alert and dived to his right to save.

A much clearer opening arrived soon after from Connor Randall's inviting cross. Kyle Lafferty and Michael Smith attacked in the box, with at least one of them looking certain to convert from six yards, but Lafferty's outstretched leg prodded the ball wide of target.

That seemed to awaken St Johnstone and they fashioned an opportunity of their own shortly after the hour mark. Again, McLaughlin repelled them. David Wotherspoon fastened on to a through ball seconds after his introduction as a substitute but his shot was expertly pushed away by the Englishman.

Hearts were reduced to ten men on 78 minutes when Cochrane received his second yellow card. He lost possession and slid in to block Alston's clearance. The teenager was late with his challenge but there looked to be little contact, however referee Kevin Clancy issued a second booking and a red card and sent him up the tunnel. It was a harsh lesson for the youngster.

Those in maroon immediately closed ranks and, with both teams cancelling each other out, a 0-0 draw was a fair result.St Johnstone: (4-2-3-1): Clark; Foster, Shaugnessy, Anderson, Tanser; Paton, Millar; Alston, Scougall, Craig; Johnstone.Subs63: Wotherspoon for Scougall74: O'Halloran for Millar80: MacLean for CraigUnused subs: Mannus, Gordon, McClean, O'Halloran, Cummins.

Hearts (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; Randall, Souttar, Berra, M Smith; Buaben, Cowie; McDonald, Cochrane, Milinkovic; Lafferty.Subs74: Walker for McDonald87: Goncalves for Lafferty90: Grzelak for M SmithUnused subs: Hamilton, Hughes, Brandon, Stockton.

Referee: Kevin Clancy.Attendance: 4,975.