Match Reports

Hearts 2-2 St Johnstone

15th May 2016

Honours even in final game of the 2015/16 season.

 

Hearts and St Johnstone played out a 2-2 draw in an incident-packed final game of the season.

The Saints raced into an early two-goal lead thanks to Liam Craig’s penalty and Adam Cummins’ close range hit, but the Jambos got back on level terms through Arnaud Djoum and a Joe Shaughnessy own goal, before Abiola Dauda saw red in the second half.

Robbie Neilson made only one change from the side that was victorious against Aberdeen during the week, as he handed a professional debut to Lewis Moore, who replaced Dario Zanatta.

Hearts made a blistering start, attacking from the off. Arnaud Djoum went close with a shot inside the box, but his effort was deflected over the crossbar.

However, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 9th minute, after John Souttar was adjudged to have hauled down Cummins inside the box whilst defending a throw in, and Craig stepped up to slam beyond Jack Hamilton.

Three minutes later it was 2-0. Danny Swanson’s corner into the six-yard box was met by a stramash of players, and Cummins bundled the ball over the line.

The Jambos halved the deficit after 17 minutes. Callum Paterson fed Prince Buaben at the edge of the box and his cross was scooped up into the air by Saints’ Liam Gordon, and Djoum leapt to loop his header over Alan Mannus and into the net.

Incredibly, Hearts were back on level terms inside 20 minutes. Buaben’s inswinging cross into the six-yard box went over Juanma’s head, but Saints defender Shaughnessy could only nod into his own net.

It could’ve been 3-2 to the Jambos just before the half hour mark. Moore’s pinpoint cross from the left found Dauda and his header looked goalbound until Mannus pulled off a spectacular flying save.

Saints then went close with a chance of their own. Cummins skipped away from his man on the byline and cut back for Swanson, but his strike was cleared off the line by Paterson, as the Hearts defence remonstrated with the linesman as they believed Cummins had in fact run the ball out of play.

The visitors nearly regained the lead minutes into the second half. Cummins outjumped Alim Ozturk and ran through on goal but Hamilton rushed out to close down the angle, and the Saints striker could only lob onto the roof of the net.

Hearts were reduced to ten men just before the hour mark, after Dauda was shown a straight red for a lunge from behind on Liam Craig. Djoum and Darnell Fisher were booked in the aftermath, as was Juanma soon after as the game threatened to boil over.

Set-piece specialist Ozturk went close with a 40-yard free kick in the 77th minute, driving low and powerful, but Mannus got down to his left to save.

The ten men of Hearts defended well and limited the opposition to shots from distance as neither side created any clear cut chances until the last minute, when Hamilton pulled off a fantastic flying save from substitute Greg Hurst.

An entertaining end to the season as the Jambos prepare for next season’s European campaign.

Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, Ozturk, Souttar, Oshaniwa (L. Smith, 52'), Moore (Nicholson, 62'), Kitchen, Buaben, Djoum, Juanma (Reilly, 67'), Dauda. Subs: Alexander, McGhee, Pallardo, Zanatta.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Scobbie, Wotherspoon, Shaughnessy, Swanson, Cummins, Fisher, Easton, Kane (Hurst, 67'), Craig, Gordon (MacLean, 82'). Subs: Clark, Doyle, Anderson, Brown, McCawl.

Referee: Greg Aitken

Top man: Arnaud Djoum