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Stendel hoping to reward Hearts fans with Kilmarnock win

Hearts boss Daniel Stendel was mystified by his side’s second-half collapse against bogey team St Johnstone.

However, he was delighted with the backing from an army of travelling supporters who stuck by their team into stoppage time, when Sean Clare rewarded them with a spectacular equaliser.

And now, hard on the heels of taking Rangers’ scalp on home turf, Stendel hopes to give the Jambos fans something else to celebrate by claiming three points against Kilmarnock on Wednesday.

“The support they (the players) got from the fans was good,” he said.

“They pushed the players and that will be a strength if they can help the players in difficult situations.

“I hope we can give back to the supporters for the backing when we are back at Tynecastle.”

After goals from Liam Boyce and Steven Naismith overturned Stevie May’s early strike, Hearts rode their luck in a second half dominated by Tommy Wright’s side, who bounced back from an energy-sapping 3-0 loss to Celtic.

Midfielder Ali McCann added to his growing reputation to make it 2-2 soon after the break and May made it 3-2 when he smashed home a 62nd-minute spot-kick, with other chances including an outrageous 45-yard May lob desperately fended off by Hearts goalkeeper Joel Pereira.

“I will need some time to understand what happened in the second half,” Stendel said.

“At half-time I didn’t think I would be saying I’d be happy with a point but when you see the second half I am.”

St Johnstone boss Wright vented his frustration with two decisions by referee Greg Aitken before Clare’s late leveller denied his side a nine-point advantage over second-bottom Hearts.

“It was a poor decision. It was our throw-in and the fourth official is right in front of it and he clearly says ‘blue, blue’,” he said.

“Why he isn’t listening to his fourth official I don’t know. You can bring VAR into Scotland all you want but it wouldn’t have worked today because the ref didn’t listen.

“Also, if that wasn’t a foul on Jamie McCart then I don’t know what is.

“They didn’t deserve anything from the game because we were better, but they got a point with a great strike.”

But Wright praised his players for producing one of their best displays of the season.

“After the tough game they had on Wednesday they were outstanding, it was a brilliant performance in the second half,” he said.

Saints head for Aberdeen on Wednesday with injuries piling-up.

Defender Liam Gordon suffered concussion after a clash of heads with Boyce and has been ruled out of the trip to Pittodrie.

Full-back Scott Tanser was substituted at half-time with a thigh injury and midfield pair Drey Wright and Murray Davidson were already on the casualty list.