Heart of Midlothian 2 Kilmarnock 3

Ladbrokes Premiership – Wednesday 5th February 2020 – Tynecastle Park

After the weekend’s all-too brief respite from the Ladbroke’s Premiership basement, Hearts returned there on Wednesday evening after a 3-2 loss to Kilmarnock at Tynecastle.

Killie have proved something of a bogey team to Hearts in recent seasons, particularly in Gorgie and they deepened the Tynecastle side’s relegation worries with a clinical performance.

With the recent win over Rangers and hard-earned draw against St Johnstone, optimism had returned to the Maroon Army once more and they enjoyed watching their team dominate the early stages against Killie.  In the opening seconds Liam Boyce set up Steven Naismith but the former Killie striker saw his effort on goal blocked as the home team forced a succession of corners. Then Euan Henderson drove at the Killie defence before forcing keeper Branescu into a save.

However, Hearts early pressure came to nothing and their short fallings in defence were exposed yet again as the visitors took the lead in the 24th minute when Findlay headed home after Burke’s corner took a deflection.

Seven minutes before half-time Killie doubled their advantage with a brilliant goal from Burke and you could almost hear Hearts recent optimism hissing away in the Gorgie night sky.

Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership – Heart of Midlothian v Kilmarnock. Tynecastle Park, 05/02/2020. Credit: Ian Jacobs

If the Hearts support were hoping for a change of fortune in the second half they got their answer after just five minutes. Killie striker Brophy was given the freedom of Gorgie Road to turn on the edge of the Hearts penalty box before firing a shot on goal which Hearts keeper Joel Pereira really ought to have done better with. 3-0 to the visitors and many Hearts fans headed to the exits with 40 minutes still to play.

With 10 minutes to go Hearts were given a glimmer of hope when Killie keeper Branescu fouled Hearts substitute Conor Washington inside the penalty box and was shown a yellow card. Sean Clare scored with the resultant penalty and when he tried to retrieve the ball from the net the Killie keeper foolishly booted the ball away. A second yellow card was brandished at Branescu and he was on his way.

In the final minute Hearts ensured a grandstand finish when fine play from substitute Jamie Walker found Craig Halkett and the defender fired home to bring the score back to 3-2.

Sadly for Hearts it was too little too late and with Hamilton Academical drawing at St Mirren Hearts slumped back to the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership table.

Hearts: Pereira, White, Souttar, Clare, Naismith, Halkett, Moore (Walker, 68′), Boyce, Langer (Ikpeazu, 52′), Irving, Henderson (Washington, 61′).

Kilmarnock: Branescu, O’Donnell, Power, McKenzie (Koprivec, 80′), Dicker, Brophy (Kiltie, 74′), Hamalainen, Findlay (Broadfoot, 66′), Del Fabro, Kabamba, Burke.

Referee: David Munro

Attendance: 16,211

Top man: Sean Clare