St Johnstone 1-0 Hearts

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland

Stevie May's second goal of the season gave St Johnstone an opening Scottish Premiership victory over Hearts at McDiarmid Park.

Almost 4,000 Hearts fans watched May curl past visiting goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald from the corner of the box.

Brad McKay's header gave the Jambos a rare glimpse of goal as Saints spurned several second-half chances.

The result means Hearts failed to eat into their 15-point deduction sanction due to the club's administration.

Those off-field issues did not deter their fans from making the journey to Perth, however, as they made up almost two thirds of this game's attendance.

Their sense of humour remains strong, too, highlighted by the presence of a Swedish national flag in the away end to niggle their Edinburgh neighbours Hibs, who lost 9-0 on aggregate to Malmo in the Europa League qualifiers.

Hearts support in McDiarmid Park's north stand
Around 4,000 Hearts fans packed into McDiarmid Park

Hearts' financial plight means they are also restricted from registering new players, but on paper there was not much between the starting sides.

Rather, the visitors' bench was more telling, full of youngsters compared to the experience Saints could turn to in the form of Murray Davidson, Nigel Hasselbaink and Rory Fallon.

Tommy Wright's men are loving life at the moment; carrying the advantage midway through their two-legged Europa League qualifying tie with Minsk, having already dumped out Rosenborg.

The hero of St Johnstone's second leg against the Norwegians was striker May and it was the 20-year-old who was the chief tormentor of Hearts.

In close succession early on, the pony-tailed forward earned a free-kick from a mistimed Kevin McHattie challenge and then glanced a header wide from Steven MacLean's fine cross.

An excellent looking McDiarmid Park surface was put to good use by Hearts, too, as Callum Paterson, who missed the end of last season through injury, shot two yards wide.

Steven Anderson's defending against European opposition has been top notch but his tangling of legs on the edge of the box with Ryan Stevenson perhaps should have resulted in a Hearts free-kick.

St Johnstone's goal caught Hearts off-guard but the scorer was no surprise.

MacLean found May wide on the left and in a seemingly unthreatening position, but the former Hamilton and Alloa loanee dribbled inside Brad McKay and curled a speculative shot past Hearts goalkeeper MacDonald at his far post.

Gary Locke's men managed to survive any further breach of their goal before half-time but that should not have been the case given Anderson's two headed chances for Saints - one well saved and the other badly missed.

Full-back McKay's back-post header gave the visitors a sniff of goal before normal service was resumed with David Wotherspoon's free-kick troubling MacDonald in the Hearts goal.

The industry on show from Saints starlet May was on-going and his blocked shot should have been finished off by MacLean's diving header to make the points safe.

But Hearts failed to muster anything to seriously test home goalkeeper Alan Mannus and St Johnstone recorded a narrow yet convincing win, making it four competitive games unbeaten in the new season.


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