By Kerry Pollock
Hearts head coach Frankie McAvoy praised the impact of new signing Alex Lowry after Hearts began their Premiership campaign with a 2-0 win at St Johnstone.
Strikes from Yutaro Oda and Lawrence Shankland seen off Steven McLean’s Saints, with both goals coming after the introduction of the 20-year old Rangers loanee.
“You can see he’s got a bit of quality. We’re delighted that he wanted to come here.” McAvoy said of Lowry. “He had a lot of options on the table, he had the chance to go down south but he felt that we play in the right manner. We used him in a few positions today in the 10 and the wee pockets. He can bring that bit of creativity to try and unlock defences because sometimes it can be difficult when teams sit in and defend.
“We know we’re getting a good young player. What we need to be mindful of is that we don’t put him under too much pressure, in terms of he’s the guy that’s got to go and win games all the time because that’s not the case. We’re a team, it’s not about one or two individuals.”
Both sides had to wait a little longer to start their campaigns after the game was delayed in kick off after the pitch side VAR monitor was exposed to the elements before an umbrella was called for.
In the opening 10 minutes the visitors dominated possession until the Saints got to grips with the game. Graham Carey looked to be a threat on the right, providing his team mates with chances in front of goal early on. Sam McClelland should have put his side ahead but sent his effort wide of the post.
Peter Haring also came close to opening the scoring for the Jambos with a header but Dimitar Mitov saw it go by. Daniel Philips was lucky to see yellow as the travelling support felt otherwise as the midfielder fouled Kye Rowles near the half hour mark.
Lowry, signed from Rangers on Friday, was introduced just before the hour mark as the home defence sat deeper behind the ball.
A great ball in from Stephen Kingsley set up Lawrence Shankland just yards away from goal, the captain will have felt as though he should have put the Jambos in front but Mitov’s heroic efforts kept the score line level.
Mitov was then again on hand to keep the score level, denying debutant Kyosuke Tagawa in a one-on-one situation.
Moments later Yutaro Oda was the man to give Hearts their first goal of the Premiership season with a right footed effort following a corner.
As the Gorgie fans celebrated their opener they would have also been pleased to see the return of both Beni Baningime and Liam Boyce from injury.
Kye Rowles backward header almost doubled his sides lead but the cat like reaction from Mitov was able to palm it out for a corner.
Nearing full time it was the visitors who had control of this fixture with numerous chances to extend their lead. In added time it was a front two of Liam Boyce and Lawrence Shankland charging towards the Saints goal, Boyce sets the skipper up nicely to double their lead and send all three points back to the capital.
Steven MacLean was able to take the positives from defeat however, insisting that he still wanted to make additions to his squad and display’s would improve going forward:
“I think when you go into a game of football I think the given is your work rate, your energy and your enthusiasm. It sounds basic but that’s the fundamentals. If you don’t do that then it doesn’t matter who you play you’ll get beat.
“I’m happy with that, it’s something to build on we’ll be better going forward. Another week’s training and hopefully another couple of bodies in, then we’ll be good to go up to County next week.”