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Paulo Sergio <-auth Gordon Waddell auth-> Charlie Richmond
7 of 009 Jamie Hamill pen 43 ;Lee Mair og 70L SPL H

Hearts 2 St Mirren 0

Sep 18 2011 Gordon Waddell, Sunday Mail

PAULO SERGIO enjoyed the taste of victory - but he understands why the Hearts fans want more gravy.

The flamboyant boss claimed a win that took an eternity to come to the boil was full of flavour.

But the bottom line is it was handed on a plate to them by sloppy St Mirren.

The three points and a five-game unbeaten run has seen the Jambos leapfrog Kilmarnock into the top four. Victory was gifted more than earned, though - a stonewall penalty converted by Jamie Hammill and a second half own goal by Lee Mair doing the damage.

And although the home side never looked like losing anything in a solid defensive display, Sergio's side are still a work in progress trying to find their feet going forward - something their fans were quick to let them know when the pace slowed.

Sergio said: "It was a victory with a good flavour. We were facing a good team but my players were tactically perfect.

"We didn't let them play the game they wanted but it's hard to do that and create a number of chances. It's a question of efficacy. The fans were right to show impatience when they did, though.

"The space for my players to play into was behind their midfield as they were pressing us but we were playing too many passes into places where we were under pressure. The fans can see this."

To be fair, the Hearts boss had been dealt a blow before a ball was even kicked, with Andy Webster breaking down in the warm-up. Eggert Jonsson came in from the bench, Adrian Mrowiec stepped back from midfield and John Sutton filled in from Ice Station Zebra in the dugout.

Sergio revealed: "Andy felt some pain. He just felt uncomfortable when kicking the ball. I don't take risks with those kind of things."

Mehdi Taouil was their only other change from last week's draw at Inverness and he took Arvydas Novikovas' shirt.

And Taouil at least gave them a little Moroccan roll with the best of Hearts' efforts in early play, a dipping 25-yarder superbly tipped over the bar by Craig Samson.

They were desperately missing firepower, though. Stephen Elliott was so isolated at times up top that he came into the "was he actually playing?" camp at times.

Ryan Stevenson was as close as it came to support for him but all his best work - and some of it was terrific - came when he was dropping off into the positions far more naturally suited to his game, not those that could have hurt Saints.

Not that St Mirren were faring much better at the other end. They were playing on the counter with a 4-2-3-1, Gary Teale surprisingly deployed in the holding role rather than out wide.

Danny Lennon was trying to use his ability on the ball to pull the strings but they were being more than managed defensively by the Jambos.

Both sides' best chances came from dead balls. Saints came so close just after the half-hour when Ilias Haddad ghosted in to meet Teale's deep free-kick at the back post but screwed his effort across goal.

And Danny Grainger's string of corners for the Jambos didn't get the justice his standard of delivery deserved. David Obua headed one gilt-edged chance over.

The game turned three minutes before the break - and Lennon will be raging at Haddad's naivety. The Dutchman stuck out a leg as Marius Zaliukas burst into the box and it was as big a stonewaller as you'll see all season.

The defender had already been booked but there was no malice in the tackle, just stupidity. It was never a second yellow, despite appeals.

Hammill's spot-kick was a cracker, though.

They were never threatened at the other end and Mrowiec in particular was giving nothing to the Paisley forwards. So much so that Lennon hooked Nigel Hasselbaink and Paul McGowan 12 minutes after the break and put on teenagers Joe McKee and the impressive Kenny McLean.

But the second goal in 69 minutes killed it. Again it was a dangerous delivery from Grainger and despite the stadium announcer generously giving the credit to Stevenson, who was in there applying pressure, it was clearly a Mair own goal.

And that was enough. Afterwards Taouil, making his first start since the opening day of the campaign, admitted it was taking time to adjust to a new manager.

He said: "I was very sorry to see Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown go. They wanted me to come here so much but that's football.

"Now we have a new manager and the players are having to adapt to doing things differently. Everything changed - the tactics, training and philosophy - but we are enjoying working with the new manager."

Player ratings: Hearts v St Mirren

Sep 19 2011


Jamie MacDonald 6 Rarely seriously troubled but still looked solid.

Jamie Hamill 7 Always willing to offer support down the right flank.

Adrian Mrowiec 6 Stepped in after another Webster injury. Composed.

Marius Zaliukas 7 Led by example with forward burst for penalty.

Mehdi Taouil 9 Creative, enthusiastic and enterprising in his midfield role.

Danny Grainger 7 Worked hard with some terrific deliveries from the left.

Eggert Jonsson 6 Defensive midfielder kept it simple and constructive.

Ian Black 6 Worked up and down right and kept himself in check.

David Obua 6 Put in decent shift to keep strikers supplied.

Stephen Elliott 6 Few chances of note but always industrious in attack.

Ryan Stevenson 7 Physically dominant and held the ball up well.

Subs: David Templeton - on for Taouil, 2. John Sutton - kept Saints alert, 2. Scott Robinson - late cameo, 2.


Craig Samson 8 Has matured into a No.1 of stature and confidence.

David van Zanten 6 Pinned back by threat of Obua and Grainger.

Ilias Haddad 4 Positioning and decision making frequently suspect.

Lee Mair 6 Unlucky with OG. Worked hard to plug defensive gaps.

Jeroen Tesselaar 5 For once, he failed to get going on the front foot.

Gary Teale 5 Never looked comfortable in role as defensive sitter.

Jim Goodwin 5 Found space hard to come by as Taouil dominated.

Ryan McGowan 5 Struggled to establish foothold pushing forward.

Steven Thomson 5 Off the pace as Hearts took a firm grip in midfield.

Nigel Hasselbaink 5 Possession a problem. Only fleeting glimpses of threat.

Steven Thompson 5 Big striker was simply starved of service in attack.

Subs: Kenny McLean - added impetus, 4. Joe McKee - got stuck in, 3. Jon McShane - helped Saints late on, 3.

Men Who Matter

Paulo Sergio The Hearts boss' maroon cardigan maybe dodgy but his Jambos were spot on - well-drilled, disciplined and always patient as the Portuguese starts to see his vision for the club slowly come into play. 8

Danny Lennon Hats off to the Saints boss for trying tactical tweaks to his team to counter the Jambos' threat but GaryTeale struggled in the game from an unfamiliar holding midfield berth. 6

VERDICT: ST MIRREN'S penalty howler gave Hearts an into the game and once that happened they were never going to let go, eventually running out convincing winners.

Man In Black Charlie Richmond reminds you of the schoolteacher who keeps a lid on classroom indiscipline - just. He twice failed to show Haddad additional yellows that would have led to a justified red. 5

Taken from the Daily Record

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