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                                                    St Johnstone
                                                    Murray Davidson (35 mins)
                                                    Francisco Sandaza (77 mins)
                                                    2-1
                                                    Hearts
                                                    Jason Holt (29 mins)

                                                    Clydesdale Bank Premier League , Mar 24, 2012
                                                    Ground: McDiarmid Park , Kickoff: 15:00 , Att 4,365

                                                    Team news

                                                    Davidson a doubt for Saints St Johnstone are sweating over the fitness of Callum Davidson ahead of their Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Hearts.

                                                    The defender is a doubt after tweaking his hamstring and the club will make a late decision on his fitness ahead of the visit of the Jambos.

                                                    Better news for Saints is the return of Cillian Sheridan from suspension.

                                                    Striker Fran Sandaza believes the desire for revenge will be Saints' motivation on Saturday.

                                                    Sandaza and his team-mates were beaten by Hearts in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals in January and the controversial nature of the loss left everyone at McDiarmid Park hurting after the award of a late penalty.

                                                    He told the Perthshire Advertiser "Obviously we were all disappointed with the way the last Hearts game finished because we felt we'd done enough to get through.

                                                    "So it was a sore one seeing them get through to the semi-finals but that's football and we won't be dwelling on it.

                                                    "We have our own season to play for, everyone at the club wants to get a place in Europe for next season.

                                                    "So it's not about revenge for the cup game, it's about taking us a step closer to getting fourth place.

                                                    "Beating Hearts would be a massive result for us because it would open up a gap, especially as we have a game in hand against Inverness next week.

                                                    "But Hearts are a good team and it won't be easy.

                                                    "They have a lot of good players and have been having a good season.

                                                    "But we are at home and come into the game on the back of a good result against St Mirren last weekend so we have confidence." Hearts were awaiting a fitness update on Mehdi Taouil and Stephen Elliott.

                                                    Midfielder Taouil (back) and striker Elliott (hip) missed the midweek William Hill Scottish Cup win at St Mirren, but could return in Perth.

                                                    Winger David Templeton (groin) is set to miss out again, but could return to contention for the Aberdeen clash.

                                                    The capital club enter this weekend's fixtures eight points clear of seventh-placed Kilmarnock with three games remaining until the split and knowing a couple more good results will seal their top-six place.

                                                    First-team coach Gary Locke, though, is keen to climb above fifth-placed Saints and fourth-placed Dundee United to secure European football next term.

                                                    "The next two or three games are vital for ourselves," he said. "If we can get a couple of wins it puts us in the mix and we've got each other to play after the league splits.

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                                                    St Johnstone vs Hearts

                                                    Last modified 17:37 24/03/12

                                                    Saints boost Euro hopes with win St Johnstone boosted their hopes of European football with a 2-1 win over Hearts in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

                                                    Steve Lomas' side continued their impressive run of form as Francisco Sandaza's spot-kick winner handed them victory at McDiarmid Park.

                                                    Jason Holt's opener for Hearts had earlier been cancelled out by Murray Davidson.

                                                    The Perth side now sit four points ahead of Hearts and level with Dundee United in the race to finish fourth.

                                                    Lomas made two changes change to the side that beat St Mirren 3-0 last weekend.

                                                    Callum Davidson missed out with a hamstring injury and Alan Maybury slotted in at left-back.

                                                    Cillian Sheridan also returned after serving a one-match suspension and replaced Chris Millar, who dropped to the bench.

                                                    Hearts boss Paulo Sergio opted to shuffle his pack for their third game in the space of a week - making four changes to the side that beat St Mirren in midweek.

                                                    Craig Beattie failed a late fitness test, while Ian Black, Jamie Hamill and Rudi Skacel only made the bench.

                                                    Sergio handed starts to Arvydas Novikovas, Gary Glen, Scott Robinson and a full debut to Holt.

                                                    St Johnstone were unbeaten in four league matches and Hearts were out to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

                                                    Marius Zaliukas was forced to clear from his six-yard box as St Johnstone threatened inside 30 seconds.

                                                    But Hearts had the first effort when debutant Holt fired a rising volley narrowly over.

                                                    Jody Morris' 20-yard half-volley forced a good save from Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald after seven minutes.

                                                    Holt was heavily involved for Hearts but both defences were coping with any attacks and chances were scarce.

                                                    Hearts goalkeeper MacDonald survived a scare after 26 minutes when Zaliukas was short with a backpass.

                                                    MacDonald beat Fran Sandaza to the ball but took a fresh air kick and the ball crept past the post.

                                                    It was a let-off but Sergio's side took advantage as they took the lead after 29 minutes.

                                                    Right-back Ryan McGowan raced down the right and fired over the perfect cross for Holt - who finished from eight yards.

                                                    Sandaza almost made the most of a mix-up in the Hearts box as St Johnstone chased the equaliser.

                                                    It arrived after 35 minutes as Davidson met Dave Mackay's cross and steered a volley beyond MacDonald.

                                                    Zaliukas then did well to cut out Lee Croft's cross as Sheridan waited to pounce.

                                                    Hearts were forced to make a goalkeeping change at half-time, with Mark Ridgers replacing MacDonald.

                                                    His goal came under threat straight away as Sandaza raced clear from the halfway line, but his shot was deflected over.

                                                    Sheridan fired a shot wide of target as St Johnstone started to pile on the pressure.

                                                    St Johnstone defender Frazer Wright was booked for a late tackle on Holt after 57 minutes.

                                                    Hearts midfielder Darren Barr then blazed over the bar from 30 yards.

                                                    There was little between the sides but St Johnstone took the lead after 76 minutes through Sandaza's penalty.

                                                    The Spaniard fell under a Zaliukas challenge and chipped a cool spot-kick down the middle.

                                                    Chris Millar almost added a second for St Johnstone with a looping header.

                                                    Andy Driver then wasted a good chance to equalise for Hearts in injury-time.

                                                    Team Line-ups

                                                    St JohnstoneRating
                                                    Player rating out of ten Player name Substitution Did they score? Player's disciplinary record Rating
                                                    15 Alan Mannus
                                                    2 David MacKay
                                                    18 David McCracken
                                                    5 Frazer Wright
                                                    12 Alan Maybury
                                                    9 Lee Croft
                                                    4 Jody Morris
                                                    8 Murray Davidson(sub 80) Goal
                                                    10 Liam Craig
                                                    11 Cillian Sheridan
                                                    21 Francisco Sandaza Goal
                                                    Substitutes
                                                    1 Peter Enckelman
                                                    6 Steven Anderson
                                                    7 Chris Millar(sub 80)
                                                    22 Kudus Oyenuga
                                                    24 Jack Compton
                                                    39 Scott Gray
                                                    46 James Keatings
                                                    HeartsRating
                                                    Player rating out of ten Player name Did they score? Player's disciplinary record Substitution Rating
                                                    30 Jamie MacDonald(sub 45)
                                                    17 Ryan McGowan
                                                    6 Andy Webster
                                                    26 Marius Zaliukas
                                                    3 Daniel Grainger
                                                    42 Jason Holt(sub 66) Goal
                                                    27 Scott Robinson
                                                    5 Darren Barr
                                                    18 Arvydas Novikovas(sub 66)
                                                    11 Andrew Driver
                                                    23 Gary Glen
                                                    Substitutes
                                                    28 Mark Ridgers(sub 45)
                                                    2 Jamie Hamill(sub 66)
                                                    7 Suso Santana(sub 66)
                                                    8 Ian Black
                                                    19 Rudi Skacel
                                                    38 Jordan Morton
                                                    22 Gordon Smith

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