He may be too young (or not Scottish enough) to get the reference but it was a sign of how well he played that the Hearts fans had rehashed an old Tartan Army favourite to hail the debutant as they belted out 'We love Jimmy Hill ...’
James Hill made a promising start to his Hearts career, starting on the right of a back three and handling anything St Mirren threw at him, which was a decent amount, especially in the early stages as they tested the new boy. But, he did not look like a players who hasn’t had a lot of first team action, coping well with the physicality of the Scottish game and mixing that with a maturity that belies the fact he has just turned 21 whenever he was in possession.
Very good on the ball, the Bournemouth loanee can pick out a pass and execute them well. Composed under pressure he can ping a beautiful cross field pass and find spaces for his attacking team-mates to run into. In his first game at this level, he showed he is also decent in the air and has a good football brain.
Although Robbie Neilson now has a few options along the back line, on Friday night’s evidence, Hill will retain his place in the starting line-up even after Stephen Kingsley returns. Garang Kuol wasn’t not given as much time to shine but there were moments within his substitute appearance that suggests he will settle in fine and galvanise the strike force .
The technology was brought in to end the controversy or, at the very least, ease it but it seems to have just added to the frustration of managers, players and fans. Describing the lack of intervention, after Kye Rowles’s late handball, as ‘soul destroying’, there needs to be a meeting or fresh info package sent out to all the clubs, explaining what is and isn’t a handball worthy penalising and why. And, when and why VAR intervenes and asks the man in the middle to have a second look.
With Craig Gordon at the game, the former St Johnstone keeper took inspiration and pulled off some wonderful saves, particularly a timely double stop in the second half, to to deny St Mirren anything from the game and remind Hearts fans that while the Scotland No 1 will always be a miss, they remain in safe hands. It was another performance that will have piqued Scotland boss Steve Clarke’s attention as he looks for Gordon’s replacement at international level, with some very important games scheduled for 2023. Clark had dropped down the pecking order there after a period of inaction but he is back and if he maintains his current form, it will be tough to find a more obvious candidate,