St Johnstone vs. Heart of Midlothian – Football Match Report – December 23, 2017
Hearts’ long wait for a win at St Johnstone goes on after their three-game winning sequence ended with a 0-0 draw in Perth.
The Edinburgh club have not won in the Fair City since 2010, when Jim Jefferies was in charge at Tynecastle.
Craig Levein’s side had to play out the closing 15 minutes with 10 men, after losing 16-year-old midfield prodigy Harry Cochrane to a red card shown by referee Kevin Clancy for a late lunge on rival midfielder Blair Alston.
The youngster had been booked earlier in the second half for pulling Chris Millar’s shirt and paid the price for a needless challenge on the touchline.
It signalled a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for the teenager, who had opened the scoring in the win over Celtic a week ago.
Not surprisingly, the home starting line-up mirrored the side which claimed their first win over Rangers at Ibrox for more than 40 years.
Visiting manager Levein made two changes from the side which brought Celtic’s 69-game unbeaten sequence with a stunning 4-0 victory.
Defender John Souttar returned after a one-game ban, with Jamie Brandon dropping to the bench, and teenager Anthony McDonald stepping in for the injured Ross Callachan.
Alston posed an early threat to the Hearts defence, getting on the end of two crosses into the penalty area.
In the eighth minute he headed wide from Richard Foster’s delivery and had an on-target 16th-minute strike from a Paul Paton corner charged down.
The visitors tested Saints keeper Zander Clark in the 21st minute but Souttar’s looping header lacked the power to pose a problem.
Hearts keeper Jon McLaughlin conceded a needless corner but made amends with a brilliant one-handed save to deny Saints skipper Joe Shaughnessy.
Fellow Perth defender Steven Anderson nodded Alston’s hanging cross back into the danger zone and Shaughnessy’s powerful six-yard header was touched over the bar by the keeper eight minutes from the interval.
Hearts almost snatched an opener in the 57th minute when left-back Michael Smith’s cross clipped Anderson but keeper Clark brilliantly responded by touching the ball round the post.
Then Jambos striker Kyle Lafferty squandered a close range opening in front of a gaping target by prodding Connor Randall’s cross wide of the target.
With the pace picking up Saints substitute David Wotherspoon forced a fine full-length diving save from McLaughlin seconds after coming on for Scougall.
In addition to Cochrane’s red card, cautions were handed out to colleague Don Cowie and Perth midfielder Paton.