Scottish Premiership
Hearts1St Johnstone0

Heart of Midlothian 1-0 St Johnstone

Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty is congratulated on his winning goal
Lafferty's goal gave Hearts a first win over the Perth side since August 2015

Hearts moved up to fifth place in the Scottish Premiership as a deflected strike from Kyle Lafferty was enough to edge out St Johnstone at Murrayfield.

The centre forward controlled a shot from Harry Cochrane and his effort on the turn nicked off Joe Shaughnessy to deceive goalkeeper Alan Mannus.

There was little to excite the crowd before the breakthrough on 74 minutes.

Cochrane, just 16, struck the post with the final kick of the ball after a stoppage-time breakaway.

Saints, who drop to sixth, managed just one weak shot on target as they fell to a third consecutive defeat.

The visitors were looking to extend an eight-game unbeaten run against the Edinburgh side but found Hearts in resolute mood at their temporary home.

Lafferty flashed a header wide and Hearts captain Christophe Berra forced a save from Mannus, both chances coming from corners.

Teenager Cochrane was introduced after the interval, with Prince Buaben, who was on a booking, making way.

Jamie Walker has been a hugely influential player for Hearts in recent seasons and the midfielder blasted a volley over the crossbar from the edge of the box and then set up Isma Goncalves, who could only shoot straight into the arms of Mannus.

Saints' solitary glimpse of goal came when David Wotherspoon jinked into the box after good work by O'Halloran but he failed to trouble Jon McLaughlin with a tame strike.

St Johnstone's Michael O'Halloran holds off Hearts' Michael Smith
Hearts are yet to concede a goal in two 'home' matches at Murrayfield

The crowd of 18,534 were becoming impatient before the deadlock was broken.

Callachan's effort from distance was intercepted by Lafferty and the Northern Ireland international had time to spin and fire off a shot.

Defender Shaughnessy's attempted block only took the ball away from Mannus and the ball slipped inside the wrong-footed keeper's post.

It was Lafferty's eighth goal since joining the club from Norwich City in the summer.

With St Johnstone chasing an equaliser in time added on, Hearts came close to a second when the impressive Cochrane crashed an angled shot off the base of the post.

Post-match reaction

Hearts manager Craig Levein: "It was a bit of a war of attrition, but we were the team that managed to see the game out.

"I'm pleased. We don't have a good record against St Johnstone recently.

"Kyle Lafferty gives everything every week and he's still getting up to speed. I think he deserved his goal for his endeavour.

"He got a goal today, but I was even more happy with his attitude."

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright: "It was a poor game and neither side probably deserved to win.

"Hearts, unfortunately, got the good fortune at the goal.

"In the first half, we got into good positions, but we couldn't cross a road at the moment. I think it's our final ball and it's been like that for a few weeks now.

"The beauty of a midweek game is that we have a chance to bounce back on Tuesday [at home to Ross County]."

Line-ups

Hearts

  • 1McLaughlin
  • 30BrandonBooked at 76mins
  • 4Souttar
  • 6Berra
  • 2Smith
  • 7Walker
  • 20Callachan
  • 8BuabenBooked at 7minsSubstituted forCochraneat 45'minutesBooked at 55mins
  • 11MilinkovicSubstituted forStocktonat 81'minutes
  • 9LaffertyBooked at 61mins
  • 77Esmael GonçalvesSubstituted forHendersonat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 13Hamilton
  • 19Nowak
  • 23Stockton
  • 27Grzelak
  • 33Moore
  • 43Henderson
  • 47Cochrane

St Johnstone

  • 1Mannus
  • 14Comrie
  • 5Shaughnessy
  • 23Gordon
  • 24Easton
  • 10WotherspoonSubstituted forAlstonat 77'minutes
  • 7MillarBooked at 57minsSubstituted forJohnstoneat 81'minutes
  • 21ScougallBooked at 24mins
  • 26CraigBooked at 90mins
  • 9MacLeanSubstituted forCumminsat 67'minutes
  • 11O'Halloran

Substitutes

  • 3Tanser
  • 4Alston
  • 12Clark
  • 17Johnstone
  • 18Paton
  • 28Gilchrist
  • 29Cummins
Referee:
Nick Walsh
Attendance:
18,534

Match Stats

Home TeamHeartsAway TeamSt Johnstone
Possession
Home58%
Away42%
Shots
Home11
Away2
Shots on Target
Home4
Away1
Corners
Home4
Away3
Fouls
Home16
Away11

Live Text

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

Full Time

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

Harry Cochrane (Heart of Midlothian) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box.

Euan Henderson (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Liam Craig (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Cole Stockton (Heart of Midlothian).

Joe Shaughnessy (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Booking

Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Liam Craig (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Cole Stockton (Heart of Midlothian).

Brian Easton (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian).

Liam Craig (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Cole Stockton replaces Manuel Milinkovic.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Denny Johnstone replaces Chris Millar.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Blair Alston replaces David Wotherspoon.

Booking

Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Stefan Scougall (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian).

Goal!

Goal! Heart of Midlothian 1, St. Johnstone 0. Kyle Lafferty (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Harry Cochrane.

Christophe Berra (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Graham Cummins (St. Johnstone).

Foul by Jamie Brandon (Heart of Midlothian).

Stefan Scougall (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Euan Henderson replaces Esmael Gonçalves.

Foul by Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian).

Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, St. Johnstone. Graham Cummins replaces Steven MacLean.

Foul by Michael Smith (Heart of Midlothian).

Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Manuel Milinkovic (Heart of Midlothian).

Michael O'Halloran (St. Johnstone) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Attempt saved. Esmael Gonçalves (Heart of Midlothian) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

John Souttar (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Steven MacLean (St. Johnstone).

Attempt missed. Ross Callachan (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right.

Booking

Kyle Lafferty (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic97202151623
2Aberdeen97201661023
3Rangers95222011917
4Motherwell95131511416
5Hearts104331011-115
6St Johnstone104241315-214
7Hibernian93421413113
8Ross County103161017-710
9Dundee102261119-88
10Hamilton102171421-77
11Kilmarnock9135713-66
12Partick Thistle101361019-96
View full Scottish Premiership table

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