NOW aged 27, Stephen Kingsley is grateful he has a platform at Hearts to exhibit what was previously a hidden talent.

The defender scored another stunning free-kick - his third of the season and fourth goal in total - in Saturday’s hard fought 2-0 victory over St Mirren.

Some 25 yards from goal in a central area, Kingsley evaded the wall and had enough curl on the ball to find the top corner.

Incredibly, the current campaign is the first he has really had the chance to showcase his ball-striking technique from dead-ball situations.

As a former Swansea and Hull City player, he was used to Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jarrod Bowen pulling rank.

“I always practise and the more you do it the more comfortable you become,” said Kingsley.

“It’s about finding your style and then doing it in games.

“I didn’t score any free-kicks before coming to Hearts because I was playing with such talented players in England.

“I was doing my practice but I just never got the chance to take them.

“In England Gylfi Sigurdsson took them at Swansea and he was sensational at them.

“Jarrod Bowen at Hull was brilliant as well and Harry Wilson came on loan so I never got a look in.

“To be fair I was injured a lot of the time so I couldn’t complain.

“Now to get the opportunity to take them has been brilliant.

“There wasn’t anyone I used to watch to get my technique. I watch all different takers as it is a unique skill.

“Everyone is different and hits the ball their own way, so it is about practice and what suits you. Then it is about working on it and being consistent.

“You can do it one time out of 20 and then put that on Instagram and you look great but it’s more important to do it consistently and do it during a game.

“I am actually better in games than in training. The boys are probably wondering how I can do it in the game but not training.”

Kingsley's goal will rightly have left a big impression on the Hearts fans from this game, although his all-round performance was outstanding.

It had to be too, because St Mirren made life difficult with their high press.

The visitors were unlucky not to go in front after the start of the second half after conjuring up a host of good chances.

Hearts were ruthless when it mattered, Gary Mackay-Steven sweeping in a deflected Barrie McKay cross after 61 minutes before Kingsley doubled their lead in the 75th minute.

A frustrating afternoon for the visitors was compounded when captain Joe Shaughnessy received a second yellow card deep into injury time.

Despite the disappointment of leaving empty handed from Tynecastle, defender Charles Dunne hopes St Mirren use their performance against Hearts as a springboard.

‘It’s vital that we don’t lose heart because, if we play like that, we’ll pick up points,” said Dunne.

“But we’ve said it all season, that we need to take our chances. We’ve drawn so many games that we could have won. 

“We just have to practice sticking those chances away on the training ground. 

“We had numerous chances throughout the game. If we put them away, it would have been a totally different game. 

“I had a chance in the first half, a shot that got saved. If that had gone in, it might have been totally different. 

“It is what it is and we move on to Wednesday. We were all so disappointed in there – but we have to move on. 

“Craig Gordon produces big saves at big moments, that’s why he’s Scotland No.1. 

“But we should have done better with those chances.”