St Mirren 2 Hearts 0 – Oran Kearney grabs first win as Buddies boss as Jambos make it five without a win
A VIRTUOSO performance from Adam Hammill gave Oran Kearney his first victory as St Mirren boss.
The former Liverpool kid scored two stunning second half strikes to provide Saints with three desperately needed points.
St Mirren players celebrate during their 2-0 winJohn Kirkby – The Sun Glasgow
Hammill’s opener from 40-yards was right out of the top drawer while his second was composure personified.
With his work for the afternoon done Hammill was substituted late on to a standing ovation from an appreciate home crowd.
This might have been second bottom against second top, however the quality of the Buddies two goals was anything but second rate.
Hammill’s brace ended a 12-match winless run – the joint longest in the club’s history – and helped ease St Mirren’s plight near the foot of the table.
St Mirren: Danny Rogers 6, Lee Hodson 6, Alfie Jones 7, Jack Baird 7, Ethan Erhahon 6, Paul McGinn 6, Stephen McGinn 7, Ian McShane 6, Kyle Magennis 7, Simeon Jackson 6, Adam Hammill 8
Subs: Cammy Smiuth (Hammill, 70) 4, Danny Mullen (Jackson, 83) 3.
Bookings: Magennis, P McGinn
Hearts: Zdenek Zlamal 6, Michael Smith 6, Clevid Dikamona 6, Jimmy Dunne 7, Ben Garuccio 6, Callumn Morrison 6, Sean Clare 5, Peter Haring 6, Arnold Djoum 6, Craig Wighton 5, Steven MacLean 6
Subs: Jake Mulraney (Wighton, 45) 5, Olly Lee (Clare, 54) 4, Demetri Mitchell (Garuccio, 61) 4
MAN OF THE MATCH
Hearts young Irish defender, Jimmy Dunne, was again immense at the back. But, he was upstaged by Adam Hammill, who stepped up to the plate and scored two sensational goals to give his team a desperately needed victory. The first from 40-yards was as good a strike as you will see all season. His second, which sealed the points, was another quality strike.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
It has not been a vintage season for one of Scotland’s most experienced referees, but this was a fairly comfortable day at the office for Craig Thomson. Both teams were fairly well behaved allowing the whistler to coast through the match. Kept up with play and was perfectly positioned to turn down a late penalty shout when MacLean went down under a Baird challenge. Correctly booked Kyle Magennis and Paul McGinn. 7
MEN IN THE DUGOUT
Oran Kearney got his tactics and personnel spot on as he presided over a first win as St Mirren manager. He’s had to wait three months for it, but it was thoroughly deserved. That’s now five without a win – including four defeats – for Craig Levein. His injury-ravaged side have also failed to score in their last four matches.
But, this was another bad day at the office for a Hearts outfit, who are currently stuck in a rut of their own.
The Jambos were leading the Premiership pack from the opening day of the campaign right up until the recent international break.
Yet, they have now failed to win any of their last five, failing to score in four of them.
Boss Craig Levein can rightly lament the loss of key players through injury, however the day was all about his counterpart, Kearney.
Three months after taking over from Alan Stubbs the Ulsterman was finally able to enjoy his first top flight triumph.
And it was thoroughly deserved with St Mirren producing a rousing second half display following a tepid first 45 minutes.
Chasing a morale-boosting it was Hearts who were quickest into gear in Paisley and they should have gone ahead in the fifth minute.
The over-lapping Michael Smith picked out the unmarked Steven MacLean at the back post as the home defence were caught on their heels.
Hammill netted a fine doubleJohn Kirkby – The Sun Glasgow
The Jambos striker had time to take a touch before shooting, but he opted to take it on the half-volley and could only smash his effort into the side-netting.
It was a huge let off for the hosts and keeper, Danny Rogers, making his first Premiership
start for the Saints following the retirement of Craig Samson.
At the other end Paul McGinn was causing problems in an advanced right midfield role and he teed up Hammill perfectly with a delightful cut-back after getting the better of Ben Garuccio.
However, a poor initial touch from the winger allowed Jimmy Dunne to make a vital defensive block.
On 20 minutes Dunne again came to Hearts rescue when Hammill sprung the offside trap to release Paul McGinn.
The St Mirren man looked odds on to get there only for Dunne to cover a tremendous amount of ground and make a terrific last-ditch tackle.
Craig Wighton then had a half chance for Hearts only to completely mis-kick as he eye-balled Rogers.
Alfie Jones and Sean Clare tussleJohn Kirkby – The Sun Glasgow
The attempt was in keeping with a game which, following a bright enough opening quickly became bogged down in a scrappy midfield battle.
Clear cut chances were at a premium as two rigidly set-up formations cancelled each other out.
Then out of nothing, just before the interval, it opened up for St Mirren.
Kyle Magennis, despite conceding quite a few pounds in weight, managed to barge the powerfully-built, Clevid Dikamona, out of the way on the edge of the area.
And as the Hearts man mountain appealed for a foul referee Craig Thomson waved play on.
Magennis had time to steady himself and pick his spot before cracking a shot against the crossbar.
It was a decent enough effort although one that was symptomatic of the Buddies season under Kearney.
And so was Stephen McGinn’s chance in the dying seconds of the first period. After squirreling clear on the inside right channel he found himself with a clear sight of goal.
Kearney was thrilled at full timeJohn Kirkby – The Sun Glasgow
However, with the first shot on target of the match he couldn’t find a way past Zdenek Zlamal, who made a brilliant stop at his near post.
The Saints punters didn’t have long to wait for the second shot on target as it duly arrived a minute after the re-start and resulted in a quite magnificent opening goal.
Full marks to Hammill for having the vision to see Zlamal off his line and then having the confidence to try his luck from fully 40-yards.
The former Barnsley winger’s self-belief was rewarded as his stunning long-range strike flew over the Hearts keeper and dipped inches under the crossbar.
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Having toiled for most of the campaign Saints now had their tails up and they made the most of it.
With 54 minutes on the clock Hammill added his second, taking advantage of a Paul McGinn mis-control to find the bottom corner with a delightful finish.
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Hearts thought they had pulled one back midway through the half when Peter Haring bulleted a header past Rogers only to have his effort ruled out for offside.
The visitors had a couple of late penalty appeals which were correctly turned down as Saints impressively saw out the game.
What They Said
ORAN KEARNEY admits he wasn’t surprised by Adam Hammill’s wonder goal.
The St Mirren winger opened the scoring with a sensational 40-yard volley before adding a decisive second.
And Kearney, who presided over his first Saints win after three months in charge, insists he signed the winger because he knew that’s exactly what he was capable of.
Kearney said: “Adam has that in his locker. When his name came up I went straight onto YouTube and he had a decent turnaround of goals in his 300-odd game in the Championship in England.
“But he scores more special goals than normal goals and when I did my research the first clip that came up was him scoring a belter – from 35 yards into the top corner – in the 2016 League One play-off final at Wembley.
“His timing today was fantastic. There’s so much more to come from him. We got him in and he picked up a shoulder injury on his debut at Aberdeen.
“He was unable to train for three or four weeks and it’s only in the last two weeks he’s been in full training and we’ve worked him extremely hard.
“It’s only this week where we’ve seen flashes that the legs are starting to come and how he looked on those videos and what I’d have wanted and expected but it’s only the start.
“It feels good. The journey our guys have been on since I’ve been at the club, it’s nice to finally get something to show for it.
“We felt it was coming as our performance levels have been getting stronger and you have that sense of it and pre-game I had a good feeling today was the day they were going to deliver and to a man they did.”
Kearney applauded supporters at full timeJohn Kirkby – The Sun Glasgow
CRAIG LEVEIN has urged his shot-shy team to find a solution to their goalscoring drought ahead of next week’s clash with Rangers.
Hearts slipped to a fourth defeat in five matches and have now gone 494 minutes without a goal.
The Jambos have not hit the back of the net since beating Dundee last month.
And Levein, who will not accept the loss of injured strikers, Steven Naimsith and Iche Ikpeazu as an excuse, is growing increasingly concerned about the situation.
He said: “I’m fed up talking about the same thing and getting frustrated as you can imagine.
“We had plenty of the ball and created chances but didn’t take them.
“The problem is scoring goals and I feel they are all waiting on someone else doing it.
“What I don’t want to do is get to a situation where I’m awaiting for players to come back.
“There are loads of points to be played for between now and Steven and Iche coming back.
“When you should be in front you go behind.
“Our crossing was poor and we didn’t create enough.
“When it carries on like this for a little while it is something the players start to think about.
“I need to come up with something for next week when we play Rangers.”
Kyle Magennis was booked for a rash challenge on Michael Smith with the score at 0-0 and Levein felt referee Craig Thomson should have brandished a red card.
He said: “I thought it was a bad foul. I thought he had gone over the top of the ball.
“It should be a sending off, but it is just something else to put on the list of things that didn’t go for us.
“When things are not going your way the last thing you need is someone to score from 45-yards.
“But, that is what happened to us. Now we have to bounce back from it next weekend.”
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