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Development League: St Mirren 1-1 Heart of Midlothian



The St Mirren Under-20 side battled back from a goal down today as a late goal from Darren Whyte earned a well deserved share of the points with Hearts in a SPFL Development League match-up at the Paisley 2021 Stadium.

The Jambos came to Paisley fielding a strong side that included senior players Danny Swanson, Jordan McGhee and Jack Hamilton. Saints only senior player in their ranks was was Alan Gow with his first game back from two bad injuries.

The first half was tough on Saints as they lost both Lewis Morgan and Jaison McGrath to injury which initially upset the balance of the team. Hearts were the more threatening side in the early stages with Dan Wilks having to make a smart save from the Jambos’ Canadian midfielder Dario Zanatta.

Zanata caused a few problems in the first half and then was booked for diving inside the box when he went down far too easily looking for a penalty. The same player though did open the scoring when he finished well past Wilks. There was a hint of offside about the move as the St Mirren players protested but the referee went with his assistant’s call and the goal stood.

St Mirren grew into the game and had a number of corners and free kicks into the box but couldn’t find the required finish. Some good chances fell Saints way – the ball broke to Darren Whyte but he whipped a great effort with his left foot that just missed the target, then Alan Gow passed up a great chance to score as he didn’t catch his shot well enough and the Hearts goalie saved well. Kyle McAllister was next to try his luck but again the final effort wasn’t just good enough to produce a goal.

Although Saints first half performance didn’t see them at their best they would have felt disappointed to go into the half-time break a goal down and to have not scored.

Saints started the second half a lot brighter as they pushed Hearts back and showed great energy and desire to find an equaliser. Their performance on the whole was better after the half-time team talk they must have had.

Chances were being created but the young Buddies couldn’t find the goal they wanted. They also has a strong penalty claim when Lewis McLear was clearly fouled but the ref played on. Alan Gow then had to leave the field 10 minutes into the second half due to injury, so Saints had to make their third and final change with over half-an-hour still left to play.

While Saints were the better team it took till the 88th minute for the youngsters to find a more than deserved goal. A corner whipped in by young Kyle MccAllister was headed back across goal by Lewis McLear and Darren Whyte finished well from close range.

St Mirren then pushed for a winner in the dying minutes. They broke through but Danny Swanson pulled back young Nathan Flanagan, a challenge that saw Swanson sent off for his second yellow card of the day.

Saints pushed in injury time to try and gain the three points but it wasn’t to be. A very hard game against a strong Hearts side but a good fight back to earn a share of the points.

St Mirren: Wilks, Morrison, Stewart, Cuddihy, McDonald, Whyte, Morgan, McAllister, McLear, Gow, McGrath.
Used Substitutes: Flanagan, O’Keefe, Cameron.

David Longwell said after the match: “It was a very hard game today and I’m proud of the boys that they got back into the game after going a goal down and then going on to gain a point.

“It was hard as Hearts had a strong team out and we were hampered in the first half losing Lewis Morgan and Jaison McGrath to injury.

“It was one of those games that we got into great areas in the final third but couldn’t find the finish or final ball we needed. In fairness we still created chances in both halves but in the second half we grew more into the game and the performance in the second half was very pleasing.

“The boys more than deserved to get the point and on another day could have won it.”

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