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St Mirren Park
Match Report: St Mirren 1-1 Hearts
Gary Locke had made three changes from the side that lost 4-2 to Partick Thistle on Wednesday, Jamie MacDonald reclaimed his spot in goals from Mark Ridgers, while Jamie Walker and David Smith replaced Billy King and Jamie Hamill.
The Jambos started brightly with Jamie Walker twice coming close with efforts from distance. Backed by a huge support of over 2,400 fans, Hearts were in buoyant mood looking to continue their good form.
Despite dominating the opening play, Hearts conceded to St Mirren's first attack. Kenny McLean's stinging drive could only be parried by Jamie MacDonald, and Conor Newton arrived to net the rebound from a tight angle.
Saints grew in confidence after this, with Gregg Wylde causing trouble down the left wing. His excellent cross was met by Josh Magennis, but the on-loan Aberdeen striker headed narrowly wide.
Shortly after, Dale Carrick was penalised for a trip around 30 yards from goal. McLean stepped up and hit a wonderful effort, denied only by a flying save from MacDonald to keep the score at 1-0 going into half-time.
The Jambos were a team reborn in the opening moments of the second half. Despite St Mirren earning an early corner, a devastating counter attack saw Sam Nicholson play in Walker, whose angled shot was destined for the net. Chris Dilo made a flying save but Dale Carrick came charging in to thump home the rebound and send the maroon faithful wild behind the goals.
Due to the nature of the game, both teams were content to keep the ball to try and see out the game at the end of difficult seasons - for differing reasons on either side, of course - but the game sparked into life with 15 minutes remaining.
Saints had two chances to win it. Paul McGowan's dinked ball into the box found Josh Magennis, but the forward timed his header all wrong and the ball went horribly wide from point-blank range. Magennis returned the favour, with his ball finding McGowan but the midfielder's header looped over MacDonald's cross bar.
Hearts then had two chances of their own to win the match. Kevin McHattie showed some lovely footwork down the left to play in Gary Oliver, but the striker's cutback was sliced wide for a corner. Then, in stoppage time, Sam Nicholson's superb cross found Callum Paterson. His header seemed goal bound but Dilo produced a stunning stop to deny the Jambos top scorer.
With that, the game, and the season, came to a conclusion. The Hearts support rose to salute their young squad as the Jambos move on to a new dawn under the ownership of Ann Budge, and will look to bounce straight back to the top flight as new challenges await in the SPFL Championship next season.
St Mirren: Dilo, McLean, McAusland, Newton (McGinn, 71'), Kelly, Naismith (Van Zanten, 90'), McGregor, Teale (P. McGowan, 61'), Magennis, Goodwin, Wylde. Subs: Kello, Reilly, Djemba-Djemba, Campbell.
Hearts: MacDonald; Paterson, McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; D. Smith (McGhee, 46'), Robinson, Holt, Nicholson; Walker (King, 71'); Carrick (Oliver, 81'). Subs: Ridgers, McKay, L. Smith, Beith.
Referee: Stephen Finnie
Top man: Dylan McGowan
Today on HeartsTV - EXCLUSIVE post-match reaction from Gary Locke.
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