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1 of 009 Gary Wales 39 ;Ricardo Fuller 72 L SPL A

St Johnstone 0 Hearts 2

By Ronnie Esplin, PA Sport

Hearts continued their fine run of form with a convincing, if unspectacular, 2-0 win over struggling St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.

Gary Wales fired the Gorgie men ahead in the 38th minute and, from then on, the visitors were always in command.

The impressive on loan Ricardo Fuller struck in the 71st minute to seal the victory in a poor game in freezing Perth.

Sorry Saints do not have their troubles to seek at the moment and struggled throughout the 90 minutes.

The game kicked off in freezing conditions and there was little in the early stages to heat up the fans shivering in the stands although Saints midfielder Paul Kane's short back-pass in the fourth minutes almost allowed Fuller a chance to dispossess Darren Dods.

The Saints defender was reduced to fouling the Hearts striker 25 yards from goal to avoid an early scoring chance for the visitors.

Both sides took time to adjust to the conditions with the Edinburgh men slightly in the ascendancy although Paddy Connolly's dribbling caused some panic in the Hearts box before the ball was eventually cleared to safety.

But with the defences on top there was little in the way of clear-cut chances at either end.

However, in the 18th minute, Saints broke quickly and Paul Hartley set up Peter MacDonald but the youngster's shot from just inside the box went well wide of Roddy McKenzie's left-hand post.

Moments later, Tommy Lovenkrands made his first impression on the game with a good run down the left and his cut-back from the by-line arrived at the feet of Hartley.

But the ex-Hibs player's shot from 10 yards was blocked by the leg of the stretching Steven Pressley.

Hearts then carved out the first real chance of the game when Thomas Flogel sent Wales clear in the box but the youngster drove his shot low at the advancing Alan Miller, who improvised to save with his feet.

But the Hearts striker was soon to make amends for the missed opportunity seven minutes later.

A lovely weighted pass from Steve Fulton found Fuller running towards goal. The Jamaican stretched to knock the ball over keeper Miller and it fell to Wales who turned eight yards out and drove it into the net.

Hearts began the second half confidently and, within the 30 seconds of the re-start, Flogel nutmegged two Saints defenders on the right wing before Dods turned his dangerous cross round the post for a corner.

But Miller in the Perth goal looked comfortable with the cross, clutching comfortably and, moments later, the keeper again did well, diving to his right to block a 25 yard snap-shot from Fuller.

The Jamaican was looking the most dangerous Hearts player on show, causing problems for the home defence with his pace on the flanks.

Lovenkrands almost doubled the visitor's lead with a bizarre own goal when his chipped back-pass from the edge of the box beat Miller but, fortunately for Saints, the ball landed on top of the net.

But the visitors were also causing Saints problems with their own work.

Fuller came close when he went on a run down the left, leaving Dods in his wake but his angled shot from eight yards bounced off the underside of the bar.

The ball eventually fell to Alan Maybury but the Hearts defender shot past the post to take the pressure off the shaky home defence.

But there was no surprise when the visitors doubled their lead in the 71st minute.

Flogel's pass found Fuller wide of the goal but the striker took a touch before blasting a low shot through the legs of Miller.

The contest was over at that point.

The lifeless Saints never looked like staging a comeback and Hearts were content to play out time.


St Johnstone: Miller, Murray, Forsyth, Dods, McCluskey, Dasovic (Djebaili 58), Kane (McBride 83), Hartley, Lovenkrands, Connolly, Macdonald (Falconer 83).

Subs Not Used: Cuthbert, Russell.

Hearts: McKenzie, Maybury, Mahe, Pressley, McKenna, Flogel, Gronlund (Severin 87), Fulton, Webster, Wales, Fuller (Kirk 90).

Subs Not Used: Gordon, Boyack, Simmons.

Goals: Wales 39, Fuller 72.

Att: 5,413

Ref: W Young (Scotland).

Taken from

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