Heart of Midlothian moved a point closer to their target of 70 with a 2-2 draw at St Mirren. For the visitors the big news was in who scored the goals.

Kyosuke Tagawa netted his first-ever league goal for the club before Lawrence Shankland hit the 30-mark, becoming the first Hearts player to do so in over 35 years.

Hearts will finish their season on Saturday when they host Rangers.

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Battling back

Hearts were on the back foot from early on. St Mirren, having confirmed their return to Europe for the first time since 1988, were buoyed by that and backed by a celebratory home crowd looking forward to their travels. The Buddies started really well and made it difficult for the visitors. They were positive, direct and aggressive but also showed plenty of control in the early stages. The last time Hearts were in Paisley, Stephen Robinson spoke about wanting his side to show more on the ball and not just go long all the time. Steven Naismith's men had to stand up to that and struggled to do so early on with the Buddies playing with a verve.

The men from Gorgie got into the game and both teams had periods of control and taking on the position of the protagonists. Twice Hearts had to come from behind and then survive a lot of pressure in the closing stages as Toyosi Olusanya caused trouble. 

For St Mirren it was a night of celebration, for Hearts it was a chance for some of the fringe and younger players and also the team's character. With little to play for, they battled and fought and showed moments of quality to ensure they came away with a result. 


1987/88. The last time a Heart of Midlothian player scored 30 goals in a single season. Of course, it was John Robertson. The closest a player had come to reaching that milestone was Lawrence Shankland last season with 28. He has gone two better this campaign. Starting on the bench, he was introduced on the hour mark and took less than 15 minutes to go from 29 to 30. And what a finish it was. The ball going away from goal and behind him, he scooped it over himself and Zach Hemming, seeing it drop into the far corner. Fluke? Not a chance. He scored a very similar goal in the Premiership when he was a Dundee United player.

All season we have struggled to find the words for Shankland. Irreplaceable. Iconic. Incredible.


For 10 minutes solid the away end at the SMiSA sang about one man and one man only: Kyosuke Tagawa. The Tequila tune was out in full force as the Japanese striker scored his first league goal for the club and first since netting in a League Cup success over Partick Thistle in August. It was a moment all Hearts fans had been waiting on, eager to see. It has not been easy for the 25-year-old since moving to the club in the summer. He has had to deal with injury, the immense form of Lawrence Shankland and struggling to adapt to the rigours of Scottish football. 

He was given just his fifth start of the season in Paisley and while it didn't start so well, giving the ball away in the early stages, he made a great run to finish some excellent work by Cammy Devlin. And could have added a second before the interval but steered the ball over with his weaker right foot. Tagawa lasted just over 70 minutes and his influence petered out after the break.

Devlin impresses again

The best attacking player in maroon in the first half was the diminutive Aussie, played in a more advanced midfield role. He was tasked with providing supporting runs and driving forward with the ball, something he did to great effect. He provided the first chance when he carried the ball deep into the Buddies box and put it into an area where a Hearts team mate perhaps should have been. He then did a very similar movement moments later. This time he picked out Tagawa who directed the ball under Zach Hemming. Devlin tried to be positive with the ball when he could and his energy with and without the ball in the final third can be a nightmare for the opposition because he stretches and moves them.

That continued after the break. There was one player more than any other looking to drive the team forward and then get in the box. It was Devlin. He gave a very good account of himself as he continues to take on a more advanced role and was frustrated when he was replaced after an hour. No doubt feeling there was a goal in the game for him.

Liam Boyce returns

The Northern Irishman has had another tough season. After the injury struggles of last campaign, he got a run of games and was heavily involved in the first half of the season only to injure a hamstring in a win at Kilmarnock. It was an injury which proved to be worse than first feared. And could well have been a season-ender with a couple of setbacks. But, in the words of Steven Naismith, "he has worked really hard" to get back. Just getting back on the pitch before the season finished can count as a success for the 33-year-old. Naismith knows, from playing with and coaching him, the quality and experience he can bring to the team. Getting back on the pitch will be a boost for the mindset more than anything going into the season and then, hopefully, a full pre-season.