St Mirren moved up to third place in the SPL table this evening following a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Heart of Midlothian. A clinical Saints cruised to victory following a 40 yard “squiggler” from captain Jim Goodwin, and a close range finish from Lewis Guy to hand the hosts all three points.
The hosts took a while to settle. Wayward passing in the defensive third allowed for some nervy moments, whilst creating little impact beyond the halfway line. Luck wasn’t on Jim Goodwin’s side (for now, at least…) two minutes into the match when his excellent challenge on Darren Barr merited a yellow card from referee Callum Murray. A more physically dominant Hearts had the better of the first half. Relentless pressure on the St Mirren goal merited merely several corners, none of which were converted by the substantial bulk the visitors had at their disposal.
Graham Carey was the first Buddie to go close when his 25 yard free kick whistled just wide of Jamie McDonald’s right hand post. Paul McGowan followed his midfield counterpart with an even more clear-cut chance soon after. An uncharacteristic mazy run from striker Steven Thompson resulted in a slipped through ball to Kenny McLean at the edge of the penalty area. McLean’s deftly chipped cross to the back post was met by an unmarked Gowser who got his positioning all wrong to header well wide of goal.
Hearts created even better chances soon after. Callum Patterson flicked a header over the bar with the goal at his mercy - a real let off of Saints. However the Edinburgh side were left reeling when they passed up what proved to be their best chance of the entire game. Skillful play on the left allowed Arvydas Novikovas to race into the area diagonally one-on-one with Craig Samson. He selflessly slipped the ball across the six yard box was met by Callum Patterson, however the 17 year old’s effort was heroically blocked right on the line by Saints debutant Paul Dummett.
The host’s momentum from the end of the first half carried on to the second 45 minutes. Just two minutes after the restart, Steven Thompson won the physical battle of the ball with Marius Zaliukas to power through on goal, whilst an offside McGowan sensibly stepped aside to allow a selfless Thompson to square the ball to Lewis Guy to slide home, to mark his second league goal for the club. A 2-0 lead had appeared from absolutely nowhere, but no one in the home support was complaining much.
And that, as they say, was that. The rest of the half consisted of St Mirren soaking up any Hearts pressure whilst letting the clock run down, as the toothless visitors offered nothing in the striking department. In a wise tactical move, Thompson was playing an unusually deep role to shore up the midfield battle. Hearts still looked threatening from corners, however Saints’ resolute defending batted away everything that was thrown at them, and provided themselves with a comfortable yet gritty victory.
The Star Saint for me was new boy Paul Dummett. For such a young player he oozed composure throughout, and his goal line clearance from Patterson kept the game alive for St Mirren. As the cliché goes, “we’ve played better this season and lost”. However today the team displayed an air of grit and determination to match that of our opponents, alongside the passing flair of which has resulted in an array of very entertained punters.
Full time: St Mirren 2-0 Heart of Midlothian.