Match Reports

St Johnstone 0-0 Hearts

19th December 2015

Ten men of Hearts battle bravely to a point at McDiarmid Park.


Ten-man Hearts battled to a 0-0 draw against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

The Jambos had a mountain to climb after seeing Juanma sent off only 28 minutes into the game, but the boys in maroon defended well and threatened in an entertaining match in Perth.

Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that was narrowly beaten a week ago at Pittodrie; Juwon Oshaniwa came in for Jordan McGhee while Morgaro Gomis replaced Miguel Pallardo.

An even opening exchange saw Hearts get the first chance of the game after eight minutes. Juanma burst through the middle before feeding Osman Sow 20-yards out. The big Swede cut inside and drilled low on target, but straight at Saints ‘keeper Alan Mannus.

The Jambos were in control of proceedings by the quarter hour mark and were advancing well into the Saints half. Prince Buaben spun away from his man and carried forward before screwing his effort wide from 20-yards.

The game then threatened to boil over, with several goalmouth tussles and Neil Alexander taking a knock to the head when clearing a cross. Saints passed up a great chance when Liam Craig’s corner found the unmarked Steven Anderson, but his header was weak and straight into Alexander’s arms.

A moment of controversy saw Hearts reduced to ten men just before the half hour mark. David Wotherspoon hit the deck after a Juanma challenge, and there appeared to be a kick out from the Saints man before he rose to his feet only to be barged into by the Spaniard, which saw referee Kevin Clancy issue the Hearts striker with a straight red.

Minutes later Saints should’ve taken the lead. Darnell Fisher burst into the box and cut back for the oncoming Murray Davidson, but with the target at his mercy the midfielder could only stab well wide.

The home side went close again after 35 minutes. A looping cross to the back door was met by John Sutton, though he could only head over Alexander and onto the roof of the net.

Hearts started on the front foot in the second-half but it was Alexander who was called into action first. Brian Easton ran to the edge of the box before drilling low but Alexander got down well to beat the ball away.

Despite playing with ten men, the Jambos showed no signs of being at a disadvantage. Sam Nicholson swung a great ball into the box for Sow to connect with, but it took a deflection off a Saints player, which lifted the ball just over the bar.

When the heat was on, Hearts defended resolutely. Liam Craig tried his luck from 30-yards but his dipping shot cleared the crossbar.

A brilliant mazy run from Buaben saw him cover 40-yards of the pitch as he advanced deep into the Saints half and pulled the trigger outside of the box, but Mannus stood firm and made the save.

It looked like all Hearts’ good work might’ve been undone when substitute Miguel Pallardo was judged to have brought down Chris Kane inside the box, presenting Steven MacLean with a chance from the spot. The St Johnstone hitman stepped up and blasted his penalty over the bar.

Kane nearly won it for the home side minutes later, but was denied by a stunning Alexander save. The Saints youngster found the ball at his feet inside the box and he prodded goalwards only to see the Hearts no. 1 block with his feet.

Alexander came to the rescue in stoppage time, making another block with his feet when it looked certain that the home side would break the deadlock.

A resilient performance from Hearts, who will see it as a point gained after playing for over an hour with only ten men.

St Johnstone: Mannus, MacKay, Anderson, Davidson, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Sutton (Kane, 70'), Fisher (Shaughnessy, 84'), Easton, Craig, O'Halloran. Subs: Clark, Scobbie, McKay, Caddis, Thomson.

Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, Oshaniwa, Gomis, Buaben (Pallardo, 70'), Djoum (McGhee, 86'), Nicholson, Sow (Reilly, 74'), Juanma. Subs: Hamilton, Ozturk, Swanson, King.

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Top man: Igor Rossi