St Johnstone won the battle of two League Cup semi-finalists to send Hearts deeper into the relegation mire.

Hearts had the better of the early play but could not turn confident passing into goals.

It was Saints who supplied the clinical finishing as Nigel Hasselbaink headed the opener.

The Dutch striker should have added a second, but Stevie May's second-half strike secured Saints' first away league win of the season.

Hearts' position could have been even worse had St Mirren's match against Ross County not been abandoned because of heavy rain with the Paisley side 2-0 ahead.

However, the young Tynecastle side remain 15 points behind the second bottom Buddies.

And, while manager Gary Locke will not admit it, even this early in the season, they must be preparing for life in the Scottish Championship next season.

For all their youthful enthusiasm and energised by their midweek cup win over city rivals Hibernian, they did not look, against St Johnstone at least, to have that killer quality in front of goal that would enable them to go on the kind of winning run that will save them come May.

They did start the brighter, with Danny Wilson having a header saved by keeper Alan Mannus, Jamie Walker flashing a powerful drive wide and Jason Holt squandering an opening by firing wildly over.

Hearts' keeper Jamie MacDonald had been their midweek hero and he did well to block a close-range Hasselbaink effort off his line after May had weaved his way to the by-line.

That was a warning of what was to come as a Chris Millar cross was fortuitously deflected into the Hearts box and Hasselbaink headed home from eight yards out.

Hearts responded well and right-back Jordan McGhee found himself on the end of a Walker cross but could not get enough on the ball to turn it into the net in front of goal.

The diminutive Hasselbaink should have had a second headed goal shortly before the break only to nod over, but extension of Saints' lead was only briefly delayed.

The Perth side, themselves looking to build on a League Cup quarter-final victory over Morton, made a whirlwind start to the second half and had a couple of efforts cleared off the line.

MacDonald also saved from Garry MacDonald before May did find the net.

After the goalkeeper parried clear a Millar drive, May celebrated his 21st birthday a day early by steering the ball into the far corner from 15 yards.

Still Hearts would not accept their fate, a Dylan McGowan header flashing wide, while Holt and David Smith threatened from range.

However, a defence in which Tam Scobbie proved a sturdy replacement for suspended Frazer Wright, held firm to record their third win in seven days.

Lineup, Bookings (0) & Substitutions (6)

Heart of Midlothian

  • 01 MacDonald
  • 30 McGhee
  • 03 McHattie
  • 02 Hamill
  • 05 McGowan
  • 04 Wilson
  • 12 Paterson (Carrick - 58' )
  • 08 Robinson (Smith - 70' )
  • 07 Stevenson
  • 15 Holt
  • 14 Walker (Nicholson - 55' )

Substitutes

  • 13 Ridgers
  • 16 McKay
  • 17 Smith
  • 18 Carrick
  • 20 Tapping
  • 28 Nicholson
  • 29 Oliver

St Johnstone

  • 01 Mannus
  • 19 Miller
  • 24 Easton
  • 08 McDonald (Jahic - 87' )
  • 02 Mackay
  • 03 Scobbie
  • 07 Millar
  • 18 Davidson
  • 11 Hasselbaink (Edwards - 75' )
  • 17 May
  • 10 Wotherspoon (Caddis - 90' )

Substitutes

  • 04 Cregg
  • 14 Edwards
  • 15 Banks
  • 16 Caddis
  • 20 Brown
  • 25 Jahic
  • 27 Fallon
Ref: Bobby Madden
Att: 13,175

Match Stats

Shots

15 16

On target

2 7

Corners

5 4

Fouls

6 11

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Hearts 0, St Johnstone 2.

90:00 +2:14 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Hearts 0, St Johnstone 2.

90:00 +1:45

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by David Smith.

90:00 +1:07

Foul by Ryan Stevenson (Hearts).

90:00 +1:07

Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +0:30

Jason Holt (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

90:00 +0:30

Foul by Gwion Edwards (St Johnstone).

89:10 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Liam Caddis replaces David Wotherspoon.

87:15

Attempt missed. Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is too high.

86:50

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Jamie Hamill.

86:18 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Sanel Jahic replaces Gary McDonald.

84:17

Attempt missed. Dylan McGowan (Hearts) header from the centre of the box misses to the right.

83:57

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Gary Miller.

80:03

Attempt saved. David Smith (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

77:46

Attempt missed. Jason Holt (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

75:20

David Smith (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

75:20

Foul by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

74:29 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, St Johnstone. Gwion Edwards replaces Nigel Hasselbaink.

73:40

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Gary Miller.

69:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. David Smith replaces Scott Robinson.

69:01

Attempt missed. Dylan McGowan (Hearts) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

68:49

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Thomas Scobbie.

68:19

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Thomas Scobbie.

67:15

Attempt missed. Danny Wilson (Hearts) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

66:36

Dale Carrick (Hearts) wins a free kick on the left wing.

66:36

Foul by Thomas Scobbie (St Johnstone).

62:38

Attempt missed. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

61:57

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Danny Wilson.

60:28

Attempt missed. Dylan McGowan (Hearts) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

60:06

Hand ball by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

57:53 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Dale Carrick replaces Callum Paterson.

57:38

Attempt missed. Callum Paterson (Hearts) header from the centre of the box is too high.

54:07 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Sam Nicholson replaces Jamie Walker.

53:26

Attempt saved. Chris Millar (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

52:29 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Hearts 0, St Johnstone 2. Steve May (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the left side of the box to the top right corner.

52:18

Attempt saved. Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

51:54

Attempt blocked. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

51:39

Attempt saved. David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

50:26

Attempt saved. Gary McDonald (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

49:11

Foul by Jason Holt (Hearts).

49:11

Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

48:04

Attempt missed. Jordan McGhee (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

47:47

Kevin McHattie (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

47:47

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

45:47

Attempt blocked. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

45:23

Foul by Jamie Walker (Hearts).

45:23

Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

45:00

Second Half begins Hearts 0, St Johnstone 1.

45:00 +0:08 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Hearts 0, St Johnstone 1.

44:26

Attempt missed. Chris Millar (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right.

43:38

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Gary Miller.

41:55

Attempt missed. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

37:53

Attempt missed. Jordan McGhee (Hearts) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

33:08

Attempt blocked. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

32:22

Jason Holt (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

32:22

Foul by Murray Davidson (St Johnstone).

32:03

Attempt blocked. Jamie Walker (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

31:18

Attempt missed. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

29:52

Corner, St Johnstone. Conceded by Danny Wilson.

28:15 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Hearts 0, St Johnstone 1. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Chris Millar.

26:19

Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

26:19

Foul by Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone).

24:12

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) left footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

21:56

Danny Wilson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

21:56

Foul by Steve May (St Johnstone).

20:40

Attempt missed. Brian Easton (St Johnstone) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

18:42

Foul by Jamie Walker (Hearts).

18:42

Murray Davidson (St Johnstone) wins a free kick on the left wing.

16:53

Foul by Ryan Stevenson (Hearts).

16:53

(St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

14:27

Attempt missed. Steve May (St Johnstone) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

14:05

Attempt saved. Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

13:02

Jamie Hamill (Hearts) wins a free kick on the right wing.

13:02

Foul by David Wotherspoon (St Johnstone).

11:45

Attempt missed. Jason Holt (Hearts) left footed shot from the left side of the box is too high.

11:18

Hand ball by Nigel Hasselbaink (St Johnstone).

3:06

Foul by Ryan Stevenson (Hearts).

3:06

Thomas Scobbie (St Johnstone) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:14

Attempt missed. Jamie Walker (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

1:14

Attempt saved. Danny Wilson (Hearts) header from the right side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

0:49

Hand ball by Gary Miller (St Johnstone).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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