Hearts 2-1 Dundee
Hearts ended a sequence of three draws with a solid win over Dundee at Tynecastle that takes them 15 points clear at the summit of the Championship with eight games to go.
Goals from Andy Halliday and Armand Gnanduillet either side of half time were enough to see Robbie Neilson’s men over the line despite a Jason Cummings penalty pegging them back mid-way through the second period. An otherwise impressive Gary Mackay-Steven will also hold his head in shame having passed up an open goal for what would have made it 3-0 and his maiden strike in maroon. Frontmen Liam Boyce and Gnanduillet were also guilty of passing up strong chances to make the final score far more respectable for the Championship pace setters.
It was a decent Hearts performance, if not spectacular, with much more attacking threat and purpose through Mackay-Steven, Boyce and Gnanduillet – with the big Ivorian looking sharper and sharper with more minutes under his belt as he strikes up a partnership with the Ulster man.
Hearts were the dominant side in terms of attacking chances with some fluffed finishes from Mackay-Steven and Ganduuillet to strong build-ups down the right hand side. However, the opener came from an unlikely source with Andy Halliday notching his third goal of the campaign with an uncharacteristic diving header after 35 minutes.
The Jambos doubled their lead on the 58th minute when Gnanduillet’s initial effort fortuitously richoted back off him after a fine break and pass from Mackay-Steven. The January signing then conspired to do the impossible and miss an open goal from six yards when he fudged a Gnanduillet cross into the thankful arms of Jack Hamilton.
Hearts didn’t have it all their own way however and Dundee always flashed their quality in attack with the likes of former Hibee Jason Cummings and past Jambo Osman Sow popping up to threaten Craig Gordon’s goal. It took a spot kick however to bring James McPake’s side back into the game when a clumsy Mihai Popescu tripped Max Anderson to allow Cummings to comfortably strike home after 63 minutes.
The home side stood fast however but did go down to ten men when Peter Haring, making a rare appearance as a substitute on 89 minutes, was dismissed for a rash lunge deep into stoppage time in a bizarre ending to the game.
The three points were a welcome outcome for Hearts and Robbie Neilson with some supporters starting to grumble about the plodding nature of recent results and performances. With Ayr next up on Saturday afternoon in Gorgie, and only eight games to go, Neilson will be hoping to conclude the campaign with some panache ahead of a tilt at the premiership and the hoped return of supports to Tynecastle.
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Halkett, Popescu, Kingsley, Irving (Haring, 89 mins), McEneff, Halliday, Mackay-Steven (Walker, 65 mins), Boyce, Gnanduillet (White, 76 mins) Subs not used: Berra, Stewart, Kastaneer, Henderson
Dundee: Hamilton, Elliott, Ashcroft, Fontaine, Marshall, McMullan, McGowan, Anderson (Afolabi, 78 mins), McDaid, Mullen (Sow, 59 mins), Cummings Subs not used: Kerr, Fagan-Walcott, Byrne, Legzdins, Robertson
Referee: Don Robertson