Hearts reaction: Transfer misstep, 'game's gone' gripe, how St Mirren need to evolve, pitch invasion amusement

Hearts came from 2-0 down at St Mirren to earn a point which keeps them in the hunt for third, while the Buddies lost a chance to close the gap to not only their opponents but Hibs as well.

Referee angst

‘The game’s gone’. Once the most tedious of responses from fans, pundits or players to an incident or situation in football. Yet, since the introduction of VAR – and the prospect of this daft Conference League being forced upon us all – it is an increasingly appropriate and justified take. At the SMiSA Stadium there were a number of daft decisions, none more so than the free-kick awarded by referee David Dickinson against James Hill? The Hearts defender’s offence? Winning a header. Ryan Strain scored from the free kick. Then Peter Haring’s red card. The most cynical of fouls to stop a counter-attack. It wasn't with excessive force and it didn’t endanger the St Mirren player. However, Dickinson AND the VAR saw differently. It was no worse than Andy Halliday's challenge in the first half which warranted a yellow. When complaints are made about VAR the rebuke is often ‘it's not the technology, it’ those using it’. Then why continue with it. All it is doing is exacerbating the problem. Now there are two people making decisions which are prompting incredulity from everyone and anyone. Why not invest the money into increasing the standards of the referees in the first place before trying to use this technology which has pushed us to the game being gone.

Hearts defensive problem

The Tynecastle Park side have conceded nine more goals than last season with three games still to play. The number of goals scored has gone up but as have those at the other end. Some may point to Craig Gordon’s goalkeeping heroics last season but Zander Clark has been doing plenty in that department. A key issue this campaign has been the lack of control and decisiveness at the back. Hearts have been guilty of shipping easy goals from set pieces and crosses all season, whether it be domestically or in Europe. Without Craig Halkett there is a real soft centre when it comes to the physical and aerial side of defending. Against St Mirren there was a nervousness when the ball came in the box, no one stepping up and attacking the ball as Halkett did ever so well last season. Not bringing in a like-for-like replacement in January was a misstep.

Buddies evolution

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This past summer St Mirren underwent somewhat of a mini revolution as Stephen Robinson put his own stamp on the squad having taken over half way through the previous season. Seven of the new arrivals made up the spine of a side which not only allowed for a clear identity but also earned the Buddies their highest league finish since 1985. Robinson believes what St Mirren have done this season is his “biggest managerial achievement”. At Motherwell he proved himself to be adept at tweaking and evolving the side when key players were lost or the style was sussed out by opponents. This summer the Buddies need slight tweaks, a slight evolution which could allow them to be even better next season. These past two weeks, the draw with Hearts and loss to Hibs, has demonstrated the need to be better in possession. No team has had a smaller share of possession than their 38.9 per cent. The Buddies had a lot of the ball in the second half at Easter Road but the team struggled to go from reactive to proactive. When Hearts went down to ten men, it should have been the time to ensure the momentum was taken away from the visitors by getting on the ball and controlling the match. Afterwards Robinson spoke about a “fear” from that position of leading by a goal.

Fan amusement

Hearts midfielder Peter Haring was shown a controversial red card against St Mirren. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Hearts midfielder Peter Haring was shown a controversial red card against St Mirren. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Hearts midfielder Peter Haring was shown a controversial red card against St Mirren. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Hearts equaliser prompted a mini pitch invasion from some of the away support. It is maybe stretching it to call it a pitch invasion. Maybe half a dozen fans jumped the hoardings, dancing around in the sun. Football and last-minute goals can prompt fans to do strange things, including a goal which keeps the team in the hunt for third but was not nearly as important as a winner would have done. The presence of the Hearts fans on the pitch provoked an angry response from some of those in the St Mirren end where the North Bank are situated at the corner of where the away and home stands meet. There was pointing and gesticulating. A lot of bravado. Very amusing on a day where the atmosphere at the 7,000-strong crowd was very good.



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