Hearts boss Robbie Neilson came under heavy fire from furious Jambos supporters as his 10-player side crashed to a fifth defeat in a row at home to St Mirren.
Second-half goals from Curtis Main and Mark O’Hara put the Buddies on course for victory before Robert Snodgrass’ red card ended the beleaguered hosts’ hopes of a fightback.
The 2-0 result was compounded as Hearts were overtaken in the cinch Premiership by Aberdeen – having sat third in the table since the start of 2023 – while St Mirren closed to within a point.
Neilson made four changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Kilmarnock as goalkeeper Ross Stewart, James Hill, Cammy Devlin and Andy Halliday replaced Zander Clark, Toby Sibbick, Orestis Kiomourtzoglou and Josh Ginnelly.
St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson picked the same XI that started the 3-0 win over Livingston last weekend.
The visitors had the first sight of goal in the ninth minute but Joe Shaughnessy headed wide from Thierry Small’s corner.
After a slow start, Hearts started to crank things up and captain Lawrence Shankland saw a shot from just inside the box deflected behind.
At the other end, Buddies midfielder Alex Gogic threatened when he connected with another Small corner and saw his downward header hit the turf and bounce up over the bar.
Hearts struggled to create clear chances but they finished the half strongly and almost conjured an opener in the 42nd minute when Halliday headed Kingsley’s cross against the bar.
Halliday and Jorge Grant then both threatened with headers in the closing moments of the half.
The Jambos had a great chance to take the lead in the first minute of the second half when Kingsley’s pass across the box found Michael Smith in space but the right-back’s shot from 15 yards out was well saved by ‘keeper Trevor Carson.
The Buddies continued to be a threat though and Keanu Baccus fizzed a shot over from just inside the box in the 49th minute. Two minutes later Gogic looked at a header wide from substitute Scott Tanser’s cross.
The visitors took the lead in the 52nd minute when Kye Rowles failed to deal with a ball over the top, allowing Main the space to rifle in a superb left-footed shot from 20 yards out.
St Mirren doubled their lead five minutes later when O’Hara pounced to fire home from eight yards out after a long throw from Shaughnessy caught out the Hearts defence. The exasperated home support responded by chanting for Neilson
Things got worse for the Jambos in the 62nd minute when Snodgrass – who was booked in the first half – was shown a second yellow for scything down Main as the St Mirren attacker tried to burst clear down the left.
The full-time whistle was greeted by loud jeers and Neilson was heckled by a large section of supporters as he walked on to the pitch to shake hands with the officials.
Heart’s next Scottish Premiership match is away to Hibernian on April 15. Kick-off 12pm.
St Mirren are away to Rangers on the same day. The game at Ibrox kicks off at 3pm.