Heart of Midlothian 4-1 St Mirren
Saturday 1st September 2018, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts cruised to a 4-1 victory at home to St Mirren this afternoon.
An action-packed first half saw five goals; Steven Naismith put Hearts in front from the spot before a Jimmy Dunne own goal restored parity. Olly Lee got the Jambos back in front before Naismith bagged a brace to ensure a comfortable afternoon.
There were two changes from the side that beat Kilmarnock last week at Rugby Park. The returning Demi Mitchell was handed a start, as was Steven MacLean, with Jake Mulraney and Callumn Morrison both moving to the bench.
Hearts had a half-chance inside the first minute. Lee’s cross was headed out to the edge of the St Mirren box for Michael Smith to let fly, but his half-volley cleared the crossbar.
The Jambos did take the lead, however, on four minutes. Uche Ikpeazu was dragged to the deck by Jack Baird as Smith curled a ball into the box and referee Kevin Clancy pointed to the spot. Naismith stepped up and made no mistake, tucking his penalty into Craig Samson’s left-hand corner.
The visitors then passed up a glorious opportunity to get back on level terms. A stray Hearts pass saw the ball picked up and moved on to Stephen McGinn at the edge of the box but he could only drag his effort wide of the target.
Hearts went straight back on the attack. Mitchell shimmied his way down the left and into the box before flashing a thunderous ball across the face of goal, but to no taker. Then, Lee’s looping corner was nodded inches wide by Dunne.
A quick free-kick saw the men in maroon nearly double their lead on 14 minutes. Lee’s ball down the line found Naismith, who eventually moved it inside for Mitchell to tee up Ben Garuccio and his rocket shot from 25-yards flew inches over the bar.
Ikpeazu got in on the action a minute later, holding off his man and turning at the edge of the box before hitting a low shot that went past Samson’s left-hand post.
St Mirren looked dangerous on the counter attack though and again got down Hearts’ right-hand side with Hayden Coulson finding the ball at the edge of the box, but he screwed his shot wide of the target.
A huge slice of good fortune handed the Buddies a 19th minute equaliser. Cammy Smith evaded two maroon shirts to get down the right and cut into the box before firing across the face of goal, and the outstretched leg of Dunne knocked it into his own net.
Hearts regained the lead on the half-hour mark. Dunne’s ball forward was flicked on by Ikpeazu and Naismith ghosted inbetween two Saints players to nod it forward for Lee to run on to and smash an unstoppable half-volley beyond Samson from six-yards.
A moment of Mitchell magic nearly gave Hearts a two-goal cushion in the 39th minute. Smith’s cross was headed into the air by Ikepazu, and the on-loan Manchester United man’s overhead kick beat Samson but landed on top of the crossbar.
Moments later Smith cut back to MacLean at the edge of the box and his snapshot was headed around the post by a Saints defender.
From the resulting corner, it was 3-1. Ikpeazu rose highest to nod into the six-yard box for John Souttar to flick on and Naismith popped up to head home from close range.
Before the half was out, it was 4-1. Peter Haring burst forward to pounce on a loose ball and send Naismith clean through, and he rolled it beyond Samson for his hat-trick and Hearts’ fourth.
Zdenek Zlamal was called into action early into the second-half, getting across his goalmouth to push away Kyle Magennis’ 20-yard drive.
Mitchell was proving a handful for the Buddies’ defence, and in the 52nd minute he stabbed a ball forward for MacLean to run onto, but the striker lashed an effort wide from 18-yards.
Just as much of a nuisance was Ikpeazu. 58 minutes in, he weaved his way into the Saints box before hitting a low shot into the side netting.
St Mirren didn’t let the heads drop though, and minutes later Lee Hodson got away from Garuccio inside the box before slamming an effort into the side net.
The visitors should’ve pulled one back in the 66th minute. Garuccio hesitated and allowed Matthew Willock to steal possession and dink over the onrushing Zlamal, but captain Souttar came to the rescue and cleared the ball off the line.
There was more good news when Arnaud Djoum replaced Lee, making his first appearance since February after being out injured for six months.
St Mirren passed up another good opportunity with nine minutes left on the clock. A free-kick swung into the box found the unmarked Alfie Jones but, from five-yards out, he completely fresh-air-swiped the ball and allowed Zlamal to smother the danger.
Substitute Morrison was a constant threat and with a minute to go, curled a 25-yard free-kick inches wide of the target.
In stoppage time, Morrison whipped in a cross from the right which found substitute and debuant Craig Wighton inside the box but he flashed his header over the bar.
The win keeps Hearts top of the Ladbrokes Premiership with four wins from four; the only side in the entire SPFL to have a 100% win record.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith, Dunne, Souttar, Haring, Lee (Djoum, 72'), Mitchell (Morrison, 60'), Naismith, Garuccio, MacLean (Wighton, 76'), Ikpeazu. Subs: Doyle, Bozanic, Cochrane, Mulraney.
St Mirren: Samson, Coulson, McGinn, Magennis, Brock-Madsen, Smith (Mullen, 79'), Baird, Jones, Hodson, Willock (Flynn, 72'), Kpekawa. Subs: Muir, King, MacPherson, O'Keefe, Erhahon.
Referee: Kevin Clancy