Robert Snodgrass scored his first goal for Hearts as they recovered from a poor first-half display to secure a 1-1 draw away to St Mirren.
The Buddies deservedly led at the break through Ryan Strain’s deflected free-kick, but the Jambos were much improved in the second period.
The stalemate – which meant both sides made it six games in a row unbeaten – keeps the third-placed Jambos five points ahead of St Mirren, who slipped from fifth to sixth in the cinch Premiership ahead of next Friday’s rematch between the teams at Tynecastle.
St Mirren made four changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Kilmarnock on Monday, with the suspended Ethan Erhahon, Declan Gallagher, Greg Kiltie and Eamonn Brophy dropping out to be replaced by Joe Shaughnessy, Alex Greive, Mark O’Hara and Alex Gogic.
Hearts were forced into one alteration to the side that started Monday’s Edinburgh derby victory over Hibernian as Alan Forrest took over from Andy Halliday, who missed out with a head injury.
St Mirren went ahead in the fourth minute when Strain’s free-kick from 20 yards took a deflection off Toby Sibbick on its way into the net after Cammy Devlin had tripped his fellow Australian Keanu Baccus.
The Buddies goalscorer’s afternoon was cut short in the 17th minute, however, when he went off injured to be replaced by Ryan Flynn.
The substitute almost doubled the hosts’ lead in the 32nd minute when he flashed a half-volley inches wide from the edge of the box.
Hearts had a decent chance in the 35th minute when Snodgrass swung over an inviting free-kick from the left but Kye Rowles was unable to get enough on his close-range header and it drifted wide.
St Mirren had some decent openings towards half-time but were unable to add to their lead before the break.
The Buddies made another change for the start of the second half, with Kiltie sent on in place of Baccus, while Hearts – who struggled before the break – switched from 3-4-3 to 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to get back into the game.
The Paisley men had a chance to score a second two minutes after the restart but goalkeeper Zander Clark made a fine save to keep out Curtis Main’s angled strike from 15 yards.
St Mirren were made to pay for their inability to get themselves further ahead as Hearts equalised in the 49th minute. Snodgrass’s inswinging left-footed cross from the right eluded everyone in the box and bounced into the far corner of the net for his first goal since joining the Jambos in September.
The goal galvanised the visitors and they had two good chances to go ahead around the hour mark. Forrest blasted into the side-netting after being teed up in the box before Lawrence Shankland sent a close-range header straight at Trevor Carson.
Saints were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time following a VAR review after Marcus Fraser was deemed to have stamped on Hearts substitute Jorge Grant.
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