St Johnstone were beaten by Hearts and Lawrence Shankland – as has been the case for many teams in the Premiership over the last few months.
But manager Craig Levein believes his side emerged from their 1-0 defeat with credit on a night in which no damage was done to their Premiership survival hopes, with Livingston losing at Kilmarnock.
“I was really pleased with our performance,” said Levein. “We matched Hearts in every department.
“They are by far the third best team in the country but I was pleased to see us play some good football.
“I thought we had possession for long periods and that pleased me.
“The fact we lost 1-0 to a good Hearts side, with Lawrence Shankland scoring a goal that I don’t think anyone else on the field would have a chance of scoring, the way we played pleases me.
“I thought we were in it for long periods and our goalkeeper had very little to do.
Saints had a penalty shout when an Adama Sidibeh shot struck the top of Alex Cochrane’s arm but, after a VAR check, they weren’t given the chance of equalising from the penalty spot.
“I haven’t seen it but it looked like it was going in,” said Levein.
“It’s done and there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Against Ross County, Levein had to do without three important players and against Hearts, it went up to four.
“I’m hoping to have Liam Gordon, Matty Smith and David Keltjens back for Sunday but nothing is guaranteed,” said Levein.
“We have been without a number of prominent players for the last two games, so all credit to the lads for the way they have dug in over the last two matches.”
Levein was full of praise for the Hearts match-winner, who has been the key man for the Tynecastle club on many occasions this season – twice against his own team since he took over from Steven MacLean.
The former Scotland boss believes Shankland has a strong chance of going to the Euros in the summer.
“I don’t think anyone would say he doesn’t,” said Levein. “His record speaks for itself.
“In a lot of games this season he’s been the difference for Hearts. I’m a big admirer.”