Saints 3-2 Hearts (10.8.16)

Saints headed into Wednesday’s League Cup second round tie with Hearts looking to build on their 4-0 win over Stirling Albion in the last round and put their name in the hat for the draw after the match.

Saints kicked off, shooting into the North Stand, but Hearts carved out the first chance as Connor Sammon weaved through the Saints lines and smashed off the base of the post from 18 yards – an early scare.

But Saints opened the scoring with an early contender for goal of the season, as Liam Craig laid off a free kick for ex-Jambo Danny Swanson to crash off the underside of the crossbar from 30 yards as the St Johnstone support erupted. 1-0.

After a quiet spell, Paton won possession in a dangerous area, but Liam Craig couldn’t find the target from the edge of the box.

Blair Alston then forced a save out of Hamilton in the Hearts goal, curling a rasping effort at goal from 25 yards to see it parried wide for a corner.

Paul Paton conceded a free kick at the edge of the Saints box but Heart captain Ozturk blazed the set piece over.

With minutes of the half remaining, Alim Ozturk tested Mannus with a fantastic free kick which the Northern Irishman matched, but the European Championships star was unable to keep out Callum Paterson’s header from the ball back in which followed as Hears equalised in the dying embers of the half. 1-1.

And in injury time, Tam Scobbie knocked over Paterson in the box, and Jamie Walker sent Mannus the wrong way from the spot as Hearts turned the match around before the break. HT: St Johnstone 1-2 Hearts.

Saints made one switch at half time, bringing on Brad McKay for Tam Scobbie who picked up a knock during the penalty incident.

An early goalmouth stramash in the second spell saw Brian Easton manage two trademark thunderbolts, the second of which was parried back into play and after pinball in the box, Blair Alston saw his effort deflected wide.

From the resulting corner, Liam Craig smashed Swanson’s low cross at goal for Hamilton to acrobatically tip over to the visitors’ relief.

And the ex-Hibs captian’s flicked header bounced just to high for Kane to convert as Saints looked to level before the hour mark.

Hearts almost extended their lead when Connor Sammon broke, but Steven Anderson held his ground and saved the day as the last man.

Sammon again broke, but Brad McKay’s pressure forced the Irishman to only find the side netting, despite looking to have handled the ball in the build up.

Jamie Walker limped off for Hearts beside Muirhead for Nicholson and Watt as Robbie Nielson looked to hold onto his lead.

A brilliant break for Saints saw Alston tee off Swanson in the box, but the winger couldn’t add to his tally, firing over.

Saints brought on MacLean for Craig as Saints looked to find a way back into the game and in the cup.

Blair Alston again came close, volleying at Hamilton from distance but his shot was matched again by the Scotland keeper.

With just over 15 minutes to go, Danny Swanson was tripped in the box and Allan gave another penalty, which the ex-Dundee United winger converted with aplomb. Game on, 2-2.

And with ten minutes to go, former Jambo Brad McKay banished the ghosts of last season and headed home to put Saints in front as the Saints support exploded. 3-2.

Hearts brought on Liam Smith for Prince Buaben in a last ditch attempt to salvage extra time as the clock ran down.

Chris Kane broke up an onslaught of maroon pressure and saw his late effort beaten over by Hamilton, and it finished at 3-2, Saints putting in a performance that will be remembered all season and booking their place in the third round of the League Cup. Full Time: St Johnstone 3-2 Heart of Midlothian.

St Johnstone: Mannus, Scobbie, (McKay, 46) Alston, Anderson, Wotherspoon, Swanson, Shaughnessy, Paton, Easton, Kane, Craig (MacLean, 66). Unused subs: Clark Millar, Coulson, Hurst, Comrie.

Goals: Swanson (10, 74), McKay (80)

Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, Rossi, Ozturk, Walker (Watt, 61), Buaben (Smith, 82), Djoum, Souttar, Cowie, Sammon, Muirhead (Nicholson, 61). Unused subs: Noring, Oshaniwa, Nowak, Zanatta.

Goals: Paterson (42), Walker (45)

Attendance: 4214 Referee: Crawford Allan Man of the Match: Danny Swanson

Match report by Ross Gardiner.