Hearts bounced back from Saturday’s surprise home defeat with a comfortable 4-0 win away to weekend conquerors Raith Rovers.
In a methodical display, the Jambos added much needed drive and purpose to their play from the start and were two goals to the good by the break thanks to goals from Liam Boyce and Euan Henderson – the latter replacing Josh Ginnelly who limped off on only 15 minutes after a strong start to the game.
Raith made things even harder for themselves just before the interval when Regan Hendry was given a straight red card for a stamp on Andy Halliday.
It felt like a result and performance that should be more forthcoming from Robbie Neilson’s side this campaign. Former Hearts keeper, and 2012 Scottish Cup Final legend, Jamie MacDonald turned in another man-of-the-match display in the Raith goal to keep the score down, however Hearts will feel they need to be more clinical in attack considering the volume and calibre of efforts they passed up.
Defence has obviously been a key challenge for the Jambos so far this term, having now only kept three clean sheets all term in the league. Christophe Berra sat this one out injured and was replaced by Mihai Popsecu – still sporting his bandaged head from Saturday’s battle – who, whilst not truly troubled, seemed to add more pace and dynamism to the Hearts defence.
New signing Armand Gnanduillet, who arrived in Gorgie just yesterday, made his debut on 60 minutes by replacing Boyce and quickly bagged a brace to hit the ground running. Whilst the big Ivorian’s first was a quick tap-in from a blocked Jamie Walker shot, his second was a decent headed effort that nestled into the top corner and added some gloss to a decent night’s work in Fife.
With Dundee’s game with Ayr postponed due to a frozen pitch, Hearts stretch their lead to nine points and await the arrival of Dunfermline at Tynecastle on Saturday afternoon.
Raith Rovers: MacDonald, Tumilty, Musonda, Benedictus, MacDonald, Armstrong (Ross, 76 mins), Spencer, Hendry, Kennedy, Vaughan (Tait, 61 mins), Duku (Davidson, 71 mins) Subs: Mendy, Thomson, Arnott, Coulson
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Popescu, Halkett, Kingsley, Halliday, Irving, Ginnelly (Henderson, 16 mins), Walker, Mackay-Steven (Naismith, 68 mins), Boyce (Gnanduillet, 60 mins) Subs: White, Haring, Stewart, Frear,
Referee: Euan Anderson