Kilmarnock 4-2 Heart of Midlothian
Hearts were beaten 4-2 in an entertaining clash at Rugby Park this afternoon.
Dale Carrick had equalised in the first half after an unfortunate Danny Wilson own-goal, but Killie raced into a two-goal lead early in the second thanks to a Kris Boyd double. Sam Nicholson pulled another goal back before Michael Gardyne rounded off the day's scoring.
Manager Gary Locke rotated the pack as best he could, following last week's defeat to Motherwell. In came Jordan McGhee at right back and Carrick slotted into the attack, which meant Brad McKay and Paul McCallum settling for places on the bench.
Hearts started with purpose, eager to atone for last Saturday's heavy Fir Park defeat. After only two minutes Carrick ran the face of goal, evading home challenges, to tee up Ryan Stevenson but his 20-yard dig flew over the crossbar.
Despite the Jambos being in relevant control, it was Kilmarnock who broke the deadlock in the most fortuitous of circumstances on 26 minutes. Rory McKenzie burst down the left-hand side and cut the ball back across goal, however it cannoned off the back-tracking Wilson and beyond Jamie MacDonald into the back of the net.
That lead didn't last long though, as Hearts got back on level terms four minutes later. Carrick chased down a long ball into the Killie box and got a touch ahead of Lee Asahcroft, which was enough to lift the ball over Craig Samson and into the open goal.
It took only three minutes after the restart for another goal to be scored, and unfortunately it came for the hosts. Boyd collected a loose ball and drove into the box, holding off challenges from maroon shirts before stabbing home from six yards.
Shellshocked Hearts were undone again in the 50th minute. McKenzie tore down the right and cut into the box to cross for Boyd, and with his second attempt he slammed the ball high into the roof of the net.
Changes were made as Hearts looked to get back into the game, and they paid dividends. Billy King found space on the right to drive into the Killie box and picked out Sam Nicholson in the middle, and the Jambos' no. 28 curled a low effort round Samson and into the corner of the net.
Hopes of a comeback appeared dashed when Killie regained their two-goal cushion after 71 minutes. Jeroen Tesselaar's cross was met by Gardyne and he finished from inside the six-yard box.
Hearts did have the ball in the back of the net in injury time thanks to Paul McCallum's header, but the on-loan West Ham striker was flagged for offside.
4-2 the final score and Hearts were ultimately made to pay for slack defending after being in control for the first period.
Kilmarnock: Samson, Tesselaar, Boyd, Karlsson (Gros, 85'), Clohessy, McKenzie (B. Nicholson, 65'), Gardyne (Muirhead, 84'), O'Hara, Slater, Pascali, Ashcroft. Subs: Reguero, Johnston, Eremenko, Maksimenko.
Hearts: MacDonald; McGhee (McKay, 85'), McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; Stevenson, Hamill (McCallum, 60'), Robinson, Nicholson; Carrick, Paterson (king, 54'). Subs: Ridgers, Beith, Holt, Oliver.
Referee: Euan Norris
Top man: Sam Nicholson
Today on HeartsTV - EXCLUSIVE post-match reaction from Gary Locke.