Liam Boyce was hopeful but not expectant when he told strike partner Lawrence Shankland that he scores enough goals to warrant the winning strike for Heart of Midlothian against St Johnstone to be awarded to the Northern Irishman.

When it comes to strikers and scoring goals, it simply doesn't work like that..

The vast majority in Tynecastle Park on Saturday assumed Boyce had netted the opener against the Perth Saints, a goal which would turn out to be the winner. But he knew straight away it wasn't his.

READ MORE: Liam Boyce on Shankland relationship, backward passes and his main strength: Q&A

"I was saying to Shanks that he scores enough so he could have given me it," he said. "But it’s just the way it is. As long as it goes in the net and we win. These are tough games. Teams come here and it’s difficult to break them down. We saw that with Livingston when Kenny [Vargas] came on and scored at the end. It was always going to take something like that to get a goal and settle us down. I’m just happy it went in, if anything.

"I knew that it hit him. I was just running away celebrating, trying to do the Alan Shearer and see if I could get the goal myself. But I knew right away that it had hit him."

The celebrations that followed the goal had the addition of concern such is the nature of VAR. St Johnstone protested about an offside and fans were just waiting for a VAR review. Even Boyce was slightly wary.

"At the time I thought I saw someone in behind him," he said. "Any time we played in behind them they were dropping really deep. That’s why the cutback eventually worked. I was just hoping it was onside. 

"I thought I caught a glimpse because when I shot I looked up I saw it hitting Shanks and I saw someone. But with VAR lines these days it can be your shoulder offside. So it was a bit nervy but thankfully it was a goal."

READ MORE: How Hearts displayed growth with St Johnstone win compared to early season struggles

St Johnstone boss Craig Levein spoke of the threat posed by Boyce and Shankland in the aftermath, asking 'what do you do with Boyce and Shankland if they get a chance?'. When the team don't play to their best there a debate about whether they can play together will follow. But Hearts have two very intelligent and technical strikers who can operate in tight spaces and move defences around with their movement. 

Due to injury, the win over St Johnstone was just the 12th time the pair have both started for Hearts. 

"I missed it for a year and was sitting watching him score goals and I couldn't wait to get back," Boyce said. "He has surprised me almost more than anyone with how good he is with the ball at his feet.

"You just see him scoring goals all the time and you think that’s all he can do but if he drops in, I’ll go higher, and we are fine-tuning that now. Our understanding is slowly getting better and better as the weeks go on and hopefully that continues because it will be good for us."

READ MORE: Penalty decisions, Hearts consistency, breaking down stubborn defences - Naismith Q&A

Both Boyce and Shankland, as well as the likes of Alex Lowry and Jorge Grant, all want to come towards the ball. Finding that attacking equilibrium is something the team are working on so there are players running in behind, stretching the game, to allow the quartet more space.

"At the start of the season we were keeping the ball and we were looking alright but we were never really threatening teams," Boyce admitted. "But, in the last few weeks that’s something we’ve worked on.  You need people who can make the run because you can't play football with everyone in behind teams or there is going to be no space.

"St Johnstone actually played quite a high line and we were making runs, especially in the first 15 minutes when I thought we were very good. We were making a lot of runs, we just didn't get the goal. If you make runs then you make the line drop and that's what we all want because eventually you are going to get that space and then it’s whether you can take advantage of it or not."

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