St Mirren continued their sensational start to the cinch Premiership season with a 1-0 victory over Hearts at the SMISA Stadium.
Ryan Strain netted the only goal after seven minutes but the Buddies had three further goals ruled out over the course of an impressive display.
After continuing their unbeaten opening to the campaign, Stephen Robinson’s side remain in second place, just two points behind Celtic and four clear of Motherwell who occupy third.
A disappointing defeat for Hearts means they drop to sixth in the table, trailing rivals Hibernian on goal difference.
The hosts opened the scoring with the first meaningful attack of the match. Greg Tanser’s cross caught out Zander Clark and Strain was well-placed to slam the ball into the net.
Hearts were struggling to get going but they almost levelled after some good link-up play between Liam Boyce and Nathaniel Atkinson led to Liam Boyce getting a shot away just inside the box, though he would see his effort blocked by Alex Gogic.
Olutoyosi Olusanya passed up a glorious opportunity to double Saints’ lead when he burst clear on goal, his initial effort being blocked by the legs of Clark and when Greg Kiltie’s shot was cleared off the line the ball dropped to Olusanya, who somehow failed to turn home from inches out.
Kiltie had the ball in the net just after the half-hour mark but his joy would be short-lived as referee Nick Walsh penalised Gogic for a high boot in the lead up.
The visitors were dealt a further blow on the stroke of half-time as Atkinson was carried off on a stretcher, forcing boss Steven Naismith to replace the Aussie defender with Toby Sibbick.
Gogic headed over from Conor McMenamin’s corner as St Mirren threatened early in the second half while at the other end Cammy Devlin sliced a shot wide of the target.
Kye Rowles came agonisingly close to levelling after 59 minutes when he rose to head Stephen Kingsley’s corner past Zach Hemming but he was denied by a superb goalline clearance.
Mikael Mandron came off the bench on the hour mark and almost made an immediate impact after robbing Frankie Kent and drilling beyond Clark, though the referee adjudged the striker to have fouled the Hearts defender.
It took a wonderful stop by Hemming to prevent Devlin from netting an equaliser with 15 minutes remaining and Alan Forrest then angled a shot wide of the post.
Alex Grieve looked to have put the game beyond doubt when he headed home after 85 minutes but, following a lengthy VAR check, the goal was disallowed for offside – the third time celebrations for Saints were cut short.
Six minutes of added time offered some hope for the large travelling support, many of whom had returned to their seats following the decision to disallow Grieve’s goal, and they came very close to claiming a share of the spoils in the final seconds.
Lawrence Shankland pounced on a slip by Gogic to find himself bearing down on goal and it took a superb point-blank stop from Hemming to clinch the victory for the hosts.
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