2021/22 Season Review: August25 May 2022
St Mirren 1-2 Hearts
A first trip on the road in the cinch Premiership returned three points, and it was Hearts’ first league win in Paisley in a decade.
On the quarter-hour, Hearts took the lead. Following some tidy passing, Peter Haring found Liam Boyce on the left-hand side of the area, and he laid the ball back for Andy Halliday, arriving late in the area, to bend the ball away from Jak Alnwick and into the corner of the net.
It was 2-0 with 17-minutes remaining. From a Michael Smith throw, Armand Gnanduillet backed into his marker all the way into the area, and fell over but still got the ball to Gary Mackay-Steven who rolled the ball along the edge of the area for Boyce, and he smashed the ball into the bottom corner after selling his marker a neat feint.
St Mirren grabbed a goal from nothing when a cross into the box was headed home by Joe Shaughnessy, who had been sent up front. St Mirren had their tails up, but almost immediately ruined it for themselves when sub Kristian Dennis, at kick-off, ran past Haring and smashed the Austrian in the face. He was instantly sent off for his moment of madness.
St Mirren went long but Hearts repelled them well, and indeed should have settled it, when sub Euan Henderson held the ball up and slipped in Smith but Alnwick denied him with a stunning close-range save to keep his side in the game, for at least another few minutes, before referee Gavin Duncan called time on the match that saw Hearts hit the top of the table.
Celtic 3-2 Hearts
Next up was a return to Premier Sports Cup duty, this time in the knockout phase.
A clinical Celtic showing had them 2-0 up by half time thanks to goals from Odsonne Edouard and Stephen Welsh.
Hearts were awarded a penalty just over 10 minutes into the second half when Boyce went down in the box after latching on to a Josh Ginnelly pass. The Northern Irishman stepped up and confidently fired his penalty into the bottom right corner to pull one back for the Jambos.
Just as Hearts beginning to build momentum, however, Kyogo restored Celtic’s two-goal cushion. A through ball played him in on the left side of the box and he duly slammed his shot into the roof of the net to make it 3-1.
Substitute Aaron McEneff then pulled another one back with seconds to go as he slotted home from close range. It wasn’t enough to prevent Celtic from a 3-2 victory, however, as the Jambos’ Premier Sports Cup campaign came to an end.
Hearts 1-1 Aberdeen
A frantic Tynecastle encounter saw both sides earn a share of the spoils.
Chances went begging at either end before the deadlock was broken on 56 minutes. Halliday slid a ball down the left wing for Mackay-Steven, who got to the ball first and was tripped in the area. Boyce put the ball on the spot and slammed the ball home to open the scoring.
Aberdeen attempted to respond, and whipped a few dangerous balls across the face of goal with no takers, but they levelled with 20 minutes remaining. Another ball was flashed across the face of goal and reached Dean Campbell at the left hand side of the area. His first time cross was tapped in at the near post by Funso Ojo.
The point kept Hearts’ unbeaten start to the league season intact, with a tricky trip to Tannadice next on the horizon.
Dundee United 0-2 Hearts
The men in maroon turned in a hugely impressive performance to leave the City of Discovery with all three points.
Dominating proceedings, the opening goal arrived with the last kick of the ball in the first half. Halliday bent a lovely pass round Ryan Edwards in the United defence for Mackay-Steven, who got the break of the ball and was tripped in the area by the scrambling defender. Trevor Carson did produce a save from Boyce’s penalty, but the striker got to the rebound first and tapped into an empty net to give Hearts a deserved lead.
Craig Gordon produced a couple of world-class saves to maintain the lead, and in stoppage time Hearts hit United with a classic sucker punch. Smith did brilliantly to bring the ball out of defence and take it up the park. Jamie Robson intercepted but Ginnelly nicked it off him, drove at goal and squared for sub Gnanduillet to bury the ball into the corner to put a seal on an impressive team performance as Hearts head into the international break joint-top of the cinch Premiership.