Craig Levein was delighted that resurgent St Johnstone were able to mark 16-year-old Fran Franczak’s first start with a 1-0 victory over Hibernian.
The teenage midfielder became Saints’ youngest-ever player when he made his only previous appearance as a late sub away to the Hibees in September.
Levein pitched Franczak in at wing-back for the visit of Nick Montgomery’s in-form side and the manager watched the youngster deliver an accomplished display as Graham Carey’s second-half strike proved enough to lift Saints from 11th to eighth in the cinch Premiership.
“Fran’s performance didn’t surprise me,” said the Saints boss. “He’s been excellent in training, he’s been with the first-team squad since we came in.
“He’s competitive, he’s not a defensive player. He’s more of an attacker. He played that wing-back position like an attacker.
“He was super-cool in his head space, whatever he did. He didn’t get flummoxed or flustered at all.
“Everything that he did was really good. It was his starting debut and I asked the boys to try and make it a memorable one for him, and they certainly did.”
Levein – who took charge last month when Saints were bottom of the table – was pleased with the way his side secured their third win of his seven-game tenure, with Carey’s breakthrough following a misplaced pass from Dylan Levitt.
“We had quite a lot of control in the game, which was important in making opportunities,” he said.
“We scored one but Marsh (Hibs goalkeeper David Marshall) made four top, top saves. We scored one and defensively we were really good.”
Hibs failed to muster a shot on target as they slipped from fourth to sixth in the table and manager Montgomery rued the way his team’s threat was snuffed out by Saints.
“It was a disappointing performance in all,” he said. “I felt at half-time it would be a mistake that would probably result in a goal and we didn’t capitalise on the mistakes they made, especially in the first half.
“We had a couple of opportunities. That pitch was tough at times, people slipping over and missing the ball, but we didn’t deserve to win the game.
“Did we deserve to lose it? On reflection of the whole game, probably not. But we did, we lost the game, and at 1-0, you know they are going to fight for everything.
“What we didn’t have was enough going forward to create a real threat, and that sort of played into their hands.”