Scottish Premiership
St Johnstone1Hearts0

St Johnstone 1-0 Heart of Midlothian

St Johnstone moved 12 points clear of Hearts after extending their unbeaten run over the capital side to eight matches with victory in Perth.

Chris Kane had already fired one effort wide when he put Saints ahead with a neat finish from a tight angle.

The striker then hooked a volley wide before his 25-yard strike hit the bar, while Liam Craig had a goal disallowed.

Hearts threatened intermittently, Bjorn Johnsen and Arnaud Djoum drawing saves from Alan Mannus, but fell short again.

This was a fourth defeat in five games against Saints this season - the other was a draw - and a third straight loss amid a wretched run of only one win in their past nine games.

St Johnstone, who have already secured fourth place and a Europa League qualifying spot, finish their campaign at home to Rangers on Sunday, while Hearts travel to face champions Celtic.

No let-up from Saints

Few would have criticised the Saints for taking their foot off the gas here, but the exact opposite was the case.

The slick passing in midfield from David Wotherspoon and Chris Millar was more than a match for the Tynecastle trio of Malaury Martin, Djoum and Don Cowie.

Add in the constant threat of Danny Swanson and the Hearts rearguard were on the back foot from the off.

It was the departing Swanson, who will join Hibernian in the summer, who slipped the ball thought the Hearts defence into the path of Kane.

Despite the attentions of three Hearts defenders, the striker was able to clip the ball beyond the despairing arms of keeper Viktor Noring with the outside of his right foot.

Glimmer of hope for Hearts

Hearts made a change at the break with the ineffective Johnsen making way for youngster Rory Currie, while Jamie Walker was sent on after an hour.

The visitors looked much more effective with Sam Nicholson in particular looking livelier in the second period.

Nicholson, who will be leaving the club after failing to agree a contract extension, was given the freedom to drive forward and cut infield.

St Johnstone's Brian Easton tries to halt Hearts winger Jamie Walker
Jamie Walker provided some spark off the bench for Hearts, but couldn't fashion an equaliser

Isma Goncalves had a deflected shot tipped away by Mannus and then the Saints keeper dived low at his left-hand post to deny Liam Smith as Hearts searched for the equaliser.

Currie has made 12 appearances for Hearts this season and his energy and enthusiasm is one of the few hints of promise in what has been, by and large, a very disappointing campaign.

Contrasting outlooks for two bosses

There will be much to ponder for the respective head coaches over the coming days and weeks.

Saints boss Tommy Wright's top priority is to find a replacement for Swanson, and with a European campaign starting in just six weeks, he will have to act very quickly indeed.

However there are few Saints fans who will have anything other than confidence in the man who has led the club to a third straight fourth-placed Premiership finish.

Ian Cathro reflects on another Hearts defeat
Ian Cathro was left to reflect on another poor display from his Hearts side

Ian Cathro does not enjoy the same support, with plenty of Hearts fans doubting the ability of the 30-year-old to lead their club forward. This was a 13th defeat in his 25 matches in charge.

He will be given another chance in the summer to add to the squad and the success of his recruitment, along with results in the early part of the new campaign, will decide if he has a long-term future at Tynecastle.

Post-match reaction:

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright: "It was a good performance. There were many moments where we could have extended the lead.

"In the first half we probably passed the ball as well as we have all season, but in the second half we got a bit panicky and went a bit too long, but overall we had a really good night against them again.

"We have lost players in the past and we have had a bit of time to prepare for Danny Swanson going. We are speaking to one or two people and hopefully we will get something sorted to get more quality added to the squad."

Hearts head coach Ian Cathro: "I think we certainly deserved a draw but we have to reflect on a first and second half that were completely different.

"We started off the first half OK but we became comfortable and started to fall off them and we were far too passive in our pressing. A large part of that first half was completely unacceptable.

"In the second half the intensity was better and I don't think there was any way we deserved to lose that game."

Line-ups

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 19Foster
  • 14Shaughnessy
  • 3Scobbie
  • 24B Easton
  • 27ThomsonSubstituted forAlstonat 67'minutes
  • 10Wotherspoon
  • 7MillarSubstituted forCraigat 80'minutes
  • 11SwansonSubstituted forCoulsonat 71'minutes
  • 29Cummins
  • 25Kane

Substitutes

  • 4Alston
  • 6Anderson
  • 9MacLean
  • 12Clark
  • 17Coulson
  • 26Craig
  • 28Gilchrist

Hearts

  • 13Noring
  • 19Nowak
  • 4Tziolis
  • 5Hughes
  • 24Smith
  • 15Cowie
  • 88MartinSubstituted forWalkerat 61'minutes
  • 10Sutchuin-Djoum
  • 11NicholsonSubstituted forEl Ouriachiat 77'minutes
  • 20JohnsenBooked at 28minsSubstituted forCurrieat 45'minutes
  • 77Esmael Gonçalves

Substitutes

  • 1Hamilton
  • 6Kitchen
  • 7Walker
  • 12Avlonitis
  • 16El Ouriachi
  • 29Brandon
  • 30Currie
Referee:
Don Robertson
Attendance:
3,141

Match Stats

Home TeamSt JohnstoneAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home14
Away15
Shots on Target
Home3
Away6
Corners
Home1
Away11
Fouls
Home9
Away12

Live Text

Match ends, St. Johnstone 1, Heart of Midlothian 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, St. Johnstone 1, Heart of Midlothian 0.

Corner, St. Johnstone. Conceded by Alexandros Tziolis.

Attempt blocked. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt saved. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Foul by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).

Don Cowie (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

Attempt saved. Michael Coulson (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

Attempt blocked. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Liam Craig replaces Chris Millar.

Hand ball by Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone).

Attempt saved. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Moha replaces Sam Nicholson.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Tam Scobbie.

Hand ball by Esmael Gonçalves (Heart of Midlothian).

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Michael Coulson replaces Danny Swanson.

Foul by Chris Millar (St. Johnstone).

Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Blair Alston replaces Craig Thomson.

Foul by Krystian Nowak (Heart of Midlothian).

Graham Cummins (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

Attempt saved. Liam Smith (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Attempt blocked. Chris Millar (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Attempt missed. Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone).

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Jamie Walker replaces Malaury Martin.

Foul by Danny Swanson (St. Johnstone).

Sam Nicholson (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Alan Mannus.

Attempt saved. Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Arnaud Sutchuin-Djoum (Heart of Midlothian).

Foul by Graham Cummins (St. Johnstone).

(Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt saved. Christopher Kane (St. Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic363240992574100
2Aberdeen372341068353373
3Rangers371810954431164
4St Johnstone37177134944558
5Hearts371210155550546
6Partick Thistle361012143843-542
7Ross County371013144657-1143
8Kilmarnock37914143554-1941
9Motherwell37108194466-2238
10Dundee37107203858-2037
11Hamilton37614173356-2332
12Inverness CT37613184169-2831
View full Scottish Premiership table

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