St Mirren 1-1 Heart of Midlothian
Hearts battled back from a goal down to earn a share of the spoils against St Mirren on Sunday.
Although the Jam Tarts fell behind to an early Steven Thompson goal, a stylish second half performance was capped off by a stunning Jamie Hamill volley which ensured that a point came back to Gorgie.
Gary Locke opted to redeploy several of his players across the park following Boxing Day's defeat to Kilmarnock. Dylan McGowan started at right back and Jamie Hamill in centre midfield alongside Callum Paterson. Callum Tapping and Scott Robinson patrolled the wings, while the shock of the day was the news that Ryan Stevenson would lead the line after three weeks out.
It took the home side only two minutes to gain the lead and it was done despite numerous attempts to clear a Danny Grainger cross. The ball eventually fell to Buddies' hitman Steven Thompson, who poked home from three yards out.
Thompson continue to thrive against the Hearts defence and in the seventh minute he took the ball down the touchline and away from Danny Wilson before feeding Jason Naismith inside the box, but his effort was brilliantly palmed away by Jamie MacDonald.
Hearts did venture up the park and weren't too far away in the twelfth minute. Hamill's cross field free-kick was met by the head of Wilson, though he couldn't steer his effort on target.
Hamill and Walker combined well in the 22nd minute with a free-kick straight off the training ground. Hamill's short pass sideways saw Walker lash a shot from 20 yards, but it swerved wide of Marian Kello's left hand post.
Clear cut chances were few and far between from thereon in. The lively Walker looked Hearts' best outlet, while St Mirren looked dangerous every time they entered the Jambos' half.
The second half started with a bang as Hearts got back on level terms in stunning style. A St Mirren clearance took a deflection on its way out of the box and dropped 25 yards out and landed on the right foot of the incoming Hamill, who volleyed it as sweet as a nut into the top corner. Kello was helpless, the net almost burst and the travelling support erupted as the Jambos scored for the first time in four games.
Saints almost equalised straightaway, as Naismith's looping shot was met at the back door by the outstretched Thompson, but his first time shot crept round MacDonald's left hand post and behind.
By this point Hearts were playing with their tails up, clearly galvanised by Hamill's wonder strike. Robinson was next to try his luck from distance when he got on the end of Walker's pass in the 58th minute, but his 30 yard shot flew high and wide of the crossbar.
Walker was tormenting the home defence, and on 66 minutes he went on one of his trademark runs, cutting inside from the left, before dragging his shot wide from the edge of the box.
Stevenson went close with a late overhead kick which just whizzed past Kello's post, and in the 92nd minute Paterson was denied from close range after Kello pulled off a brave save.
1-1 the match finished and Hearts will feel they could've taken all three points in what was an exciting encounter in Paisley.
St Mirren: Kello, Naismith, McAusland (Van Zanten, 46'), Newton, Kelly, Goodwin, McGregor, McGinn, Thompson, McGowan (Harkins, 80'), Grainger. Subs: Dilo, Reilly, Cuddihy, Brady, Mair.
Hearts: MacDonald; McGowan, McKay, Wilson, McHattie; Robinson (Smith, 78'), Hamill, Paterson, Tapping; Walker, Stevenson. Subs: Hamilton, McGhee, B. King, A. King, Carrick, Nicholson.
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Top man: Jamie Hamill