Heart of Midlothian 0-1 St Johnstone
Monday 29th October 2018, KO 14:00 | League | Oriam
A very young Hearts side lost 1-0 to St Johnstone at the Oriam, losing their first game in five outings.
Andy Kirk's men, featuring 16-year-olds Aaron Hickey, Scott McGill, Sean Ward and Josh Doig, battled hard against Alan Maybury's side that included first team players Danny Swanson and Stefan Scougall.
It was a sloppy opening few minutes at a sun-soaked Oriam with neither side able to fashion any chances of note.
When St Johnstone did start to come into the game it was mainly through tricky winger Euan O’Reilly. A mazy run from the youngster resulted in a cross deep to the back post. He found former Hearts man Danny Swanson but the winger could only plant his shot wide.
They went 1-0 ahead just moments later when O’Reilly arched another cross to the back post and Callum Hendry’s header looped over Silva in the Hearts goal.
Henderson came closest to getting Hearts back into the game after half an hour when Scott McGill won the ball back from the St Johnstone defence, creating a 3-on-2. He played Henderson in but the striker could only drag his left-footed shot wide.
The youngster, currently on a development loan at Montrose, was also able to test the Saints defence from two free-kicks but he couldn’t find a way past Connor Mitchell.
He came close again when Hickey played a sweeping ball down the line and the striker cut inside from the right to sent a low shot towards goal, only for Mitchell to shin it away.
Kyle McClean had the final chance of the first half, collecting the ball 20 yards out, swivelling and firing a shot low past Silva’s right hand post.
There were a few changes at the half with Sean Ward replacing Alex Petkov for the hosts and Jordan Northcroft and Sean Struthers coming on for Danny Swanson and Aaron Comrie.
The first chance of the second half fell to Saints captain Alistair McCann, who hit a powerful shot just over Kevin Silva’s bar.
St Johnstone had their best chance to make it two through O’Reilly. Hendry ran down the left and cut it back to O’Reilly, who beat Doig to the ball and took it towards goal. However, Kevin Silva did well to narrow the angle and save.
Henderson missed the best chance for Hearts to get back into it. He got on the end of a long Daniel Baur through ball but when bearing down on goal he hit his half volley well over the bar.
Hendry missed a sitter to kill the game off for the Saints. More good play from O’Reilly on the right flank saw him skip past his marker and pull it back to the six-yard box. Hendry’s first touch took him away from his man onto his stronger right foot, but he sliced his shot high to the right.
The final Hearts chance fell to Bart Gajda. Kevin Silva lofted a long free-kick into box, and it evaded everyone apart from the Polish centre-half, unmarked at the back post. He tried to loop his header over the keeper but saw it drift past the post.
Hearts: Silva, Hickey, Hamilton, Gajda, Baur (c), Moore, Petkov (Ward 45’), Ritchie, McGill, Makovora (Doig, 70’), Henderson. Subs: Mason, Strang, Leddie
St Johnstone: Mitchell, Comrie (Northcroft, 45’), Brian, Donald, Quigley, McCann (c), O’Reilly, Scougall (McKenzie, 60’), Hendry, McClean, Swanson (Struthers, 45’). Subs: Wills, Bow, Finnie, Hamilton
Referee: Dan McFarlane