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<-Srce <-Type Sporting Life ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Ben Rumsby auth-> Euan Norris
[K Deuchar 51]
1 of 006 ----- L SPL A

St Johnstone 1 Hearts 0

By Ben Rumsby, Press Association Sport

Jim Jefferies' first match in charge of Hearts for almost a decade proved a huge anti-climax as St Johnstone claimed three Clydesdale Bank Premier League points at McDiarmid Park.

Kenny Deuchar's first SPL goal for almost two years was enough to beat a Hearts side whose only shot on target came from substitute Gordon Smith in stoppage-time.

The game ended with Jambos captain Michael Stewart having to be restrained as he remonstrated with the officials while leaving the field.

Hearts' insipid performance was otherwise in stark contrast to last night's remarkable drama, which saw Jefferies return to the club barely two hours after Csaba Laszlo was sacked as manager.

Jefferies, who led the club to their last major trophy in 1998, had less than 24 hours to prepare his side for this afternoon's game.

He was joined in the dugout by long-time lieutenant Billy Brown and Gary Locke, though neither are yet officially employed by the Jambos.

Jefferies' first Hearts team of his second spell in charge showed four changes from the Laszlo's final selection.

Former Kilmarnock boss Jefferies handed a first SPL start to young full-back Rocky Visconte and recalled Christian Nade, Gary Glen and Dawid Kucharski.

Saints changed half their outfield line-up, drafting in Deuchar, Graham Gartland, Murray Davidson, Filipe Morais and Steven Milne.

Hearts enjoyed more possession early on but Saints posed the greater threat, the ball over the top proving particularly effective.

That helped set up a Chris Millar shot which was too close to Marian Kello, as well as a good chance for Milne, who skied his finish under pressure.

Morais also tried his luck from long range in what was generally a subdued start from both sides.

The repeated complaints about Hearts' lack of firepower which were partly behind Laszlo's dismissal were looking more than justified as Nade and Glen struggled to make any impact.

The same could not be said for Morais, who got in behind again 11 minutes from the break and saw a shot blocked when a cross looked the better option.

Milne went close four minutes later, heading over off balance after more fine work from Millar.

It was no surprise to see Jefferies hand the fit-again Andrew Driver his first appearance for almost three months as he withdrew Marius Zaliukas during the interval.

It took less than a minute for Hearts to respond with their first shot, Glen volleying over when well placed after Dave Mackay missed his clearing header.

At the other end, Deuchar failed to connect properly with Millar's cross and Milne drilled wide from a tight angle.

A goal looked inevitable and it arrived in the sixth minute when Danny Grainger's low left-wing cross was turned in by Deuchar, the striker's first SPL goal for almost two years.

Jefferies immediately withdrew Visconte for Marius Cinikas.

The new man soon made an impact, crossing for Nade, who should have hit the target with a free header.

Otherwise, Hearts were showing little sign of equalising, so Jefferies threw on Gordon Smith for Glen midway through the half, while Saints introduced Cillian Sheridan for Deuchar.

Davidson became the first player booked for a high challenge on Stewart.

Kucharski might have conceded a penalty when Milne went down in the box before Sheridan sidefooted tamely at Kello.

Gartland was carded for an off-the-ball offence spotted by one of Euan Norris' assistants.

Saints were not sitting on their lead and Millar saw a shot blocked before Sheridan again finished weakly, this time from outside the box.

Liam Craig replaced the fading Morais with 12 minutes remaining.

Five minutes later, Grainger came to the hosts' rescue when he headed Driver's wicked cross behind.

But Sheridan should have made the game safe when he blasted Milne's cross-cum-shot against the post.

Millar was booked late on for tripping Driver, whose resulting free-kick was deflected though to Smith, but the youngster volleyed over.

Saints brought on Paul Sheerin for Kevin Moon in stoppage-time before the game ended in high drama.

Stewart was booked for dissent, Smith saw what looked a certain equaliser blocked by Gary Irvine and Stewart betrayed his frustration at the final whistle.

St Johnstone Smith, Irvine, MacKay, Gartland, Grainger,Millar, Moon (Sheerin 90), Davidson, Morais (Craig 78), Milne,Deuchar (Sheridan 69).

Subs Not Used: Main, Anderson, MacDonald, Reynolds.

Booked: Gartland, Millar.

Goals: Deuchar 51.

Hearts Kello, Jonsson, Zaliukas (Driver 46), Jason Thomson,Kucharski, Obua, Michael Stewart, Visconte (Cinikas 52),Bouzid, Nade, Glen (Smith 68).

Subs Not Used: Balogh, Witteveen, Ryan Wallace, Mulrooney.

Booked: Michael Stewart.

Att: 4,752

Ref: E Norris (Scotland).

Taken from

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