Hearts made it three cinch Premiership wins on the bounce with a hard fought 1-0 victory against St Johnstone.
Both sides created good chances throughout the afternoon but the three points stayed in Gorgie courtesy of Liam Boyce’s second half strike, which struck Lawrence Shankland to divert it beyond the goalkeeper.
Head coach Steven Naismith made one change from the side that was victorious at Motherwell prior to the international break. Jorge Grant came into the starting XI, with Calem Nieuwenhof moving the bench.
The Jambos were first to threaten after only three minutes when Alex Cochrane swung a set piece into the box for Kye Rowles to meet, but he couldn’t steer his header on target.
A sublime move moments later forced a great save out of Dimitar Mitov. Cochrane showed tremendous skill to cut inside before moving it on to Grant, who flicked it into Lawrence Shankland. He teed up Cochrane for a first time shot but the Saints keeper pounced to his right to push the ball away.
Mitov was called into action not long after, throwing himself to his left to push Liam Boyce’s header around the post. Immediately after, Rowles' glancing header flew a few yards past Mitov’s right-hand post.
Boyce was in the thick of it and after ten minutes was slipped into the box by Stephen Kingsley. He elected to shoot early and could only fire into the side net.
The visitors soaked up the pressure well and nearly took the lead on 23 minutes. St Johnstone worked their way into the Hearts box with Luke Robinson meeting a cross, and although his initial header was blocked, he was first to react, stabbing the ball goalwards, only to be denied by a fantastic point-blank Zander Clark save.
They threatened again five minutes later. Chris Kane latched onto a ball over the top before feeding Matthew Smith at the edge of the Hearts box, he strode forward before blasting an effort into the side net.
Half time: Hearts 0-0 St Johnstone
Clark had to be alert four minutes into the restart. Smith bound down Hearts left side and swung a cross towards that looked like it may creep in under the crossbar but the Scotland keeper tipped it over the bar.
By this point the visitors were proving dangerous going forward, with Kucheriavyi taking aim from outside the box on 55 minutes, but his shot was beaten away by Clark.
The deadlock was finally broken just after the hour mark and it was courtesy of the boys in maroon. Cochrane’s ball in from the left found Boyce who struck from inside the box, with the ball appearing to take deflect off Shankland and spin away from Mitov, into the back of the net.
Nieuwenhof was introduced on 67 minutes and immediately turned in a great ball from the left to find Boyce. He took a touch on 18-yards before blasting narrowly over the target. Fellow substitute Yutaro Oda followed that up a minute later by darting into the box and firing over.
The game was bereft of chances from thereon in, despite both sides pushing for a game-changing goal. The impressive Jambos defence stood firm, without being under any real pressure, to ensure the three points stayed in Gorgie.
Hearts: Clark, Kent, Kingsley, Baningime, Grant (Devlin, 80’), Shankland ©, Boyce (Vargas, 80’), Rowles, Forrest (Oda, 58’), Cochrane, Lowry (Nieuwenhof, 67’). Subs: McGovern, Haring, Sibbick, Denholm, Tagawa.
St Johnstone: Mitov, Considine (Gallacher, 45’), McGowan, Gordon, May (Jaiyesimi, 85’), Kane (Jephcott, 82’), Kucheriavyi, Robinson, Smith, Phillips, Costelloe. Subs: Richards, Olufunwa, Sprangler, Ballantye, Cooke, Franczak.