Clydesdale Bank SPL, Saturday 29 January 2011 - Tynecastle
I normally only post about a match I've actually attended but I have to make a wee confession here. I wasn't at Tynecastle today as I had to attend a hospital appointment I had been waiting for since early November - and some things take priority even over watching the boys in maroon (not many, admittedly) However, I got back home at 4.30pm, spent a fraught twenty minutes or so waiting for the final whistle before turning on BBC Alba who showed the ninety minutes from Tynecastle in their entirety at 5.30pm. Hurrah for BBC Alba!
Much of the press seemed to take a fair bit of delight at Hearts heavy defeat at Celtic Park during the week - step forward Mr Graham Speirs - so it was going to be interesting to see how Hearts reacted when St. Johnstone came calling to Tynecastle - three weeks after the Perth Saints knocked Hearts out the Scottish Cup in Gorgie. Jim Jefferies made a handful of changes to the team that lost 4-0 in the east end of Glasgow with David Obua partnering Gary Glen up front with Suso Santana tucked in behind. There wasn't even a place on the substitute's bench for David Templeton, whose sparkling form of a few weeks ago has faded somewhat.
Hearts dominated the game from start to finish. They scored the only goal of the game after just three minutes when Rudi Skacel cleverly converted a fine cross from Craig Thomson. Skacel had another chance soon after but missed before Santana really should have doubled Hearts lead but his first touch on the edge of the six yard box let him down. St. Johnstone manager Derek McInnes was clearly unhappy with the way the first half was going and made a double substitution just before half-time. However, Hearts continued to dominate the game and fine play from Lee Wallace set up Skacel early in the second half but the Czech player fired his shot straight at Saints keeper Enckelman when he really should have scored.
The second half was notable for the welcome return of Hearts Andrew Driver after months out through injury. There was a trademark Driver run near the end of the game which so nearly gave Hearts the second goal their play deserved but in the end a single goal was enough. With Kilmarnock spilling points at Hamilton, Hearts are now 15 points clear in third place - time, surely, to look out the passports for next season's Europa League. As an aside, Edinburgh's other team are 32 points - and several light years - behind their superior neighbours. Just thought I'd mention it.