MATCH REPORT BY ROSS GARDINER
Saints looked to make it two wins in five days when they took on Craig Levein’s Hearts at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night.
Tommy Wright’s side picked up three points for the first time this season against Hamilton and hoped for the same again as the struggling Edinburgh side came to Perth.
Saints were keen to avoid conceding another early goal and kept Hearts at bay throughout the early spells.
The first real chance came on the quarter hour mark as a low Wotherspoon cross from the left hand corner found the feet of Davidson, but the midfielder’s first time effort was deflected behind for a corner.
Stevie May was next to come close a couple of minutes later, but the hitman couldn’t keep his volley down.
Play stopped on 20 minutes for Ralston to receive medical treatment. The loanee left play for brief moment but was able to continue.
The best chance of the half fell to Ali McCann after a loose ball broke on the edge of the capital club’s box with ten minutes to go.
But the midfielder couldn’t reach the ball before Jambos stopper Pereira.
A Drey Wright cross appeared to strike Christophe Berra’s arm and play was waived on, and when Ikpeazu’s fifth foul went without a booking, the home support voiced their agitation.
Both captains Berra and Kerr went into the book before the break for clumsy challenges but the sides went in goalless.
Early in the second half, Drey Wright was knocked down by White and the Hearys blocker saw yellow for his challenge. The hosts were unable to capitalise on the resulting set piece, however.
Kennedy came close on 55 minutes with a low drive but the strike was curtailed by a sliding defender.
Murray Davidson forced a splendid diving save just before the hour mark with a half volley which brought the sleepy spectacle to life.
The resulting corner was flicked home by totemic captain Jason Kerr as Saints eventually broke the deadlock, with the aid of a megaton Christophe Berra deflection
With the long sought after breakthrough finally found by the Perth men, Saints added to their firepower by swapping Kennedy for Kane with the aim of further punishing the crestfallen visitors.
Saints asserted their dominance and repeatedly ripped schism in the Hearts back line with a tirade of long balls, but forwards May and Kane were caught out time and time again by the linesman’s flag.
David Wotherspoon worryingly limped off with just over 15 minutes remaining, with veteran midfielder Liam Craig entering the fray.
Returning Hearts striker Steven MacLean saw yellow in the dying embers of the match for a late lunge, but the popular attacker, who had been kept quiet by Saints’ resolute safeguarding of the penalty area, was met with warmth by the home fans as play resumed.
Ali McCann came close to netting his first Saints goal but was kept out by a super late block. From the resulting corner, Wallace Duffy saw his towering header batted away.
The hosts’ rearguard proved impenetrable and they clung onto their clean sheet, and the three points were secured when the final whistle sounded after four minutes of injury time.
FT: St. Johnstone 1-0 Heart of Midlothian
SAINTS: Clark, Ralston, Tanser, Duffy, Kerr (c), Wright, Wotherspoon (Craig 73), McCann, Davidson, Kennedy (Kane 69), May (Hendry 87)
UNUSED SUBS: Parish, Vihmann, Swanson, O'Halloran
HEARTS: Pereira, Hickey, White, Smith, Berra (c), Morrison (Walker 59), Clare (Meshino 80), Bozanic, Damour (Whelan 59), MacLean, Ikpeazu
UNUSED SUBS: Doyle, Brandon, Dikamona, Irving
REFEREE: David Munro
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