Hearts reaction: Match-winning tweaks, the band back together, St Mirren complaints unfounded
A look back at some of the key moments from Hearts’ 2-0 win at St Mirren on Saturday ...
Match officials and Aussie rules
In the aftermath of Hearts 2-0 win at Paisley, opposition boss Stephen Robinson cast aspersions on referee Greg Aitken’s decision-making but given time for emotions to regulate, if the St Mirren gaffer removes the black and white specs and rewatches the footage, he should recognise that the officials were pretty spot on in the rulings, especially when it came to the big calls.
Conor Ronan did deserve a red card, flying in at knee height on Beni Baningime, while the penalty shouts, for and against, were all called correctly.
And, as much as Jak Alnwick will wish he had made it off his line and out to the ball before Ellis Simms in the 67th minute, the reality is he only got there in time to block the striker but not soon enough to get the ball into his hands and under control before the Englishman made contact, legitimising Cammy Devlin’s follow-up and the Aussie’s first goal for the club.
The diminutive Aussie is already a fan favourite and the fact he can now add goals to his contributions only endears him further to a support who love his commitment and heart.
Making the moments count
When Liam Boyce was presented with three scoring opportunities in the opening minutes and was unable to convert any of them, there was cause to consider this might be another of those games Hearts could and should have won but just couldn’t make their superiority count.
They have managed just two goals in their last five games and that inability to bury opponents when they had the chance has cost them points in recent weeks, most notably against Dundee. But the substitutions made a difference in Paisley as Robbie Neilson tweaked the formation and rejigged the personnel, sending Josh Ginnelly and Ellis Simms on to bolster the attack.
It worked with both posing fresh questions of the St Mirren backline. But Simms was the one who really imposed himself on the game.
A player with good movement and physicality, he popped up in the right place, at the right time, unafraid to take a shot, and his tenacity allowed him to grab the opening goal with a follow up shot, while his willingness to chase down balls and put the home defence under pressure led to Cammy Devlin scoring the second goal.
Back at it
But, it wasn’t all about the goals scored. The return of Craig Gordon and Craig Halkett, from illness and injury respectively, meant they were able get the original band back together across the back four. Ahead of Gordon, then John Souttar, Halkett and Stephen Kingsley, there were still faces missing but they looked far more solid than in recent games.
That experience at the back helped start attacks but also provided a strong foundation that the men in front of them could build on.
And it wasn't just across the backline that the Gorgie side looked more composed yet robust.
With Beni Baningime and Liam Boyce back in the starting line-up, the entire spine of the team was quality, giving them confidence and nous to ultimately find a way to get back to winning ways and maintain their obvious advantage in third place.
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