Saints 0-1 Hearts
7th February 2024
Saints slipped to a narrow 1-0 defeat to Hearts at McDiarmid Park this evening.
It was a tightly-contested affair between the sides and although Hearts dominated possession for the first half an hour Saints gradually came into the game.
The only goal of the game came 10 minutes into the second half as Lawrence Shankland showed great composure as he cut through Ryan McGowan and Andy Considine before sending a finish beyond Dimitar Mitov.
Saints created chances to get back into the game and Nicky Clark saw his header cleared off the line by Shankland with ten minutes remaining, whilst Adama Sidibeh scooped his effort wide.
Saints are back in action on Sunday as they make the short trip to take on Dundee at The Scot Foam Stadium at Dens Park, kick off 2pm.
Saints welcomed Hearts to McDiarmid Park this evening as they looked to build on their 1-0 win at Ross County on Saturday. Craig Levein made one change to his starting eleven this evening as Oludare Olufunwa came in to replace David Keltjens who missed out completely. Hearts made a stunning comeback at the weekend to defeat Dundee 3-2 and Head Coach Steven Naismith made three changes to the side which started at The Scot Foam Stadium at Dens Park as Stephen Kingsley, Scott Fraser and Kenneth Vargas came in to replace Toby Sibbick, Yutaro Oda and Jorge Grant who all dropped to the bench.
Scott Fraser got the match underway for Hearts and the visitors created a chance in the first couple of minutes as Alex Cochrane cut the ball at the byline as he tried to pick out Lawrence Shankland in the centre of the box however, Andy Considine made a great interception to clear the ball.
Hearts dominated possession during the first half and on 26 minutes as Scott Fraser’s corner from the left was met by Frankie Kent whose header played in Stephen Kingsley however, his strike at the near post was straight at Dimitar Mitov who comfortably gathered.
PHOTO: Lawrence Shankland is dispossessed by Benjamin Kimpioka
Despite Hearts dominating possession Saints started to come into the game as the first half progressed and on the half an hour mark Max Kucheriavyi played the ball into Benjamin Kimpioka whose strike was blocked by a Hearts defender.
Kimpioka was looking dangerous up top for Saints and on 38 minutes the forward got away from Kent as he broke forward and into the Jambos box however, Kingsley was able to get back to block the strike. Then a minute later Kucheriavyi’s cross from the left broke to Kimpioka however, he could find the target with his effort.
On 43 minutes Dexter Lembikisa sent over an inviting cross from the right which was met by Kenneth Vargas at the back post however, he put his header wide of the mark.
PHOTO: Connor Smith is tackled by Beni Baningime
Saints made a change before the second half got underway as Sven Sprangler came on to replace Fran Franczak.
The Perth side created the first chance of the second half as Tony Gallacher played in Connor Smith however, the strike from the midfielder was straight at Zander Clark.
Play quickly switched to the other end as a minute later Hearts came agonisingly close to taking the lead as Alan Forrest’s curling effort from 12 yards went narrowly wide of the far post.
On 54 minutes Graham Carey got a sight of goal however, he couldn’t test Clark as he curled his effort high into the Ormond Stand.
PHOTO: Luke Robinson breaks forward
The breakthrough came a minute later as Hearts took the lead. A long ball forward from Kent, was gathered by Shankland and he got the better of Considine, the in-form Scotland internationalist then touched the ball away from Ryan McGowan before sliding it past Mitov.
Craig Levein made a double change on 65 minutes as Tony Gallacher and Benjamin Kimpioka were replaced by Adama Sidibeh and Nicky Clark.
2 minutes later Hearts threatened again as Calem Nieuwenhof slipped the ball into the path of Vargas however, the Costa Rican forward put his right footed effort wide.
With 15 minutes remaining there was a nervous VAR check for Saints as McGowan brought down Vargas after the on-loan C.S. Herediano forward was put clean through before being hauled down just outside the box. The incident was reviewed by VAR however, Vargas was deemed to have been offside, whilst McGowan was booked by referee Iain Sneddon.
Saints were awarded a free kick a minute later as Clark was fouled by Craig Halkett. Carey took the resultant free kick as his delivery into the box broke to Sidibeh whose powerful strike was blocked by Alex Cochrane as Saints appealed for a penalty which were dismissed by Sneddon.
PHOTO: Adama Sidibeh shoots over the bar
The Perth side continued to search for the equaliser and with 11 minutes remaining Connor Smith’s corner from the left was met by Clark and his goal bound header was cleared off the line by Shankland. Then a minute later Craig Levein’s men were awarded a free kick after Kucheriavyi was fouled by Vargas. Carey took the free kick however his delivery into the box was comfortably dealt with by the visitors as the Jambos rearguard cleared the danger.
On 84 minutes Hearts substitute Yutaro Oda sent over a fine delivery from the right as he tried to pick out Lembikisa however, Mitov was alert to the danger as he came off his line to punch the ball away.
Saints made their final change of the game on 84 minutes as Connor Smith made way for Diallang Jaiyesimi.
The final minute of the ninety saw Clark send a great ball over the top of the Hearts defence to play in Sidibeh and the Gambian forward unleashed a powerful effort that didn’t trouble Clark as it went wide the target. Six minutes were added on at the end and in the first minute of added on time Kucheriavyi picked out Sidibeh was a fine ball into the box however, the forward scooped his effort over the bar as Hearts saw the game out to secure the win.
Saints: Mitov, Gallacher (Sidibeh 65’), Considine, McGowan, Carey, Kucheriavyi, Olufunwa, Robinson, Kimpioka (Clark 65’), Franczak (Sprangler 45’) C. Smith (Jaiyesimi, 84’)
Unused Substitutes: Richards (GK), May, Kane, K. Smith
Booked: Robinson, Considine, McGowan, Jaiyesimi
Hearts: Clark, Kent, Kingsley (Halkett 75’), Baningime, Nieuwenhof, Shankland, Forrest, Cochrane, Fraser (Oda 82’), Vargas (Grant 82’), Lembikisa
Unused Substitutes: Gordon (GK), Devlin, Sibbick, Denholm, Tait, Tagawa
Scorer: Shankland (55’)
Referee: Iain Snedden
VAR: Kevin Clancy
Match Report by Daryl Scott
Picture: Sven Sprangler and Alan Forrest battle for possession