Dorman dashes Hearts hopes with late equaliser
Hearts let slip a golden opportunity to extend their lead over Aberdeen and Dundee United in third place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League when they allowed Gus McPherson's plucky St Mirren side to plunder an injury-time equaliser at Tynecastle today.
In hard-fought match, Hearts thought they had done enough when Eggert Jonsson drove home a deflected effort from close range in 77 minutes. Saulius Mikoliunas passed up the chance to wrap up the points just three minutes later, and in truth it was little more than the visitors deserved when Andy Dorman poked home from close range in time added on.
Csaba Laszlo made just the one change from the eleven who had seen off Aberdeen seven days before. Christos Karipidis had failed to train during the week due to a bug and his place in the team was taken by Jason Thomson, who slotted in at right back. Robbie Neilson filled the hole in central defence alongside Jonsson.
Mindful of their opponents' exertions in midweek, Hearts had clearly been briefed to make a fast start in the match, and it wasn't long before they were making tracks in the direction of Chris Smith's goal.
Their first effort came in only three minutes when David Obua strode forward from half-way as the St Mirren defence retreated ahead of him. Unfortunately for Hearts, the Ugandan's right foot shot dribbled disappointingly wide.
Two minutes later and Hearts had another sight of the target, this time after Christian Nade had fed Lee Wallace through the inside-right channel. The full back was at full stretch, though, and could only slice his effort well wide.
St Mirren showed that they weren't in town just to make up the numbers when a high hanging ball to the edge of the box found Neilson apparently caught in two minds. Dorman managed to squeeze in behind him, but Janos Balogh had advanced from his line to smother the danger.
Jim Hamilton then headed narrowly wide from a Dorman free-kick but most of the traffic was in the other direction. Nade had a long-range effort parried away by Smith and from the resultant corner the home side almost took the lead when Jonsson poked first time against the keeper's left hand post. Nade was sniffing for the follow up, but the ball came at him so quickly he was unable to direct his shot on target.
Obua and Nade then combined somewhat fortuitously to give Bruno Aguiar his first sight of goal, but the Portuguese playmaker could only squirt his effort well wide. Five minutes later and Hamilton was booting a loose ball over the bar at the other end.
Obua then tested Smith again with another trundler low towards the post, but the keeper was up to the task, dropping to his left to clutch easily. The keeper then appeared to turn an Aguiar free kick over the crossbar for a corner kick, and looked as surprised as everyone else in the stadium to be awarded a goal kick.
The half drew to a close with Obua slaloming into the box and driving a shot over the bar, all of which took place with Gary Glen lying prostrate on the penalty spot. Although he rejoined the fray after brief treatment, the youngster did not recover sufficiently to make his reappearance after the interval.
Larry Kingston was the replacement, but whatever the manager had in mind with that change will remain a mystery, the Ghanaian international lasting only two minutes and one challenge by Stephen McGinn before he had to be carried off on a stretcher three minutes into the half.
Ruben Palazuelos was the next man to join the fray, and maybe that was no bad thing as the match suddenly opened up, uncomfortably so for the home side, who more than once had to rely on the watchful Jonsson and Neilson to prevent the visiting strikers from getting a clear strike on goal.
At the other end, there was some good lead up play from Andrew Driver and David Obua on the flanks, but too often did their final ball fail to beat the first man or if it did it would invariably fall just behind the runs of the supporting Michael Stewart and Christian Nade.
If we were to score, it seemed most likely that it would be a scrappy effort from a set piece, and so it transpired with just 13 minutes left for play. Obua's delivery from the left bounced off a Saints defender and fell kindly for Jonsson, whose powerful left foot shot was deflected past the exposed Smith and into the bottom corner of the net. The Icelander's second of the season against Saints, and a goal he richly deserved after all his sterling work at the other end of the pitch.
And the points should really have been wrapped up three minutes later when Obua again swung the ball into the middle for unmarked substitute Saulius Mikoliunas. The midfielder seemed to have all the time in the world to control and slot home, but instead swiped wildly first-time, sending the ball spinning wide and behind for a goal kick.
Saints pressed forward in search of an equaliser, with little sign of the weariness they had feared in playing so soon after their Scottish Cup exertions against Motherwell on Thursday evening.
Sub Craig Dargo glanced a header over the bar and with the fourth official signalling three minutes of additional time, we breathed a sigh of relief, believing the job was all but done.
We believed wrongly. Saints quickly won another free kick just inside the Hearts half on the right, and when the ball was swung in high towards the back post, Hamilton rose highest to knock down for Dorman to poke under Balogh from four yards.
Hearts: Balogh; Thomson, Neilson, Jonsson, Wallace; Obua, Stewart (Mikoliunas 76), Aguiar, Driver; Glen (Kingston 46 (Palazuelos 48)), Nade. Booked: Nade, Palazuelos, Mikoliunas. Subs not used: Kello, Mrowiec, Cesnauskis, Elliot.
St Mirren: Smith; Ross, Potter (Wyness), Cuthbert, Camara; McGinn (Dargo 79), Dorman, Murray (Thomson ), Brady; Hamilton, Mehmet. Booked: Murray, Cuthbert, Hamilton, Dorman. Subs not used: Howard, Mason, Haining, Barron.
Referee: David Sommers
Top man: Eggert Jonsson
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