2021/22 Season Review: October27 May 2022
Hearts 2-0 Motherwell:
There was little sign going into October that Robbie Neilson's maroon machine was slowing down! Motherwell came to Gorgie for our next test at Tynecastle, with Graham Alexander's side also enjoying a solid start to the season. Whoever picked up the three points knew they had a chance to take top spot in the cinch Premiership.
Two first-half goals were enough to sink the Steelmen, Liam Boyce converting another penalty before Stephen Kingsley treated the Gorgie faithful to another magic moment from a free-kick routine. The visitors made life hard for themselves early doors when Liam Kelly tripped Boyce at an unusual angle after just five minutes. The Northern Irishman promptly picked himself up before sending the ball past Kelly from 12-yards - recording his tenth strike of the campaign in the process.
Motherwell struggled to cope with Hearts' relentless intensity and, roared on by the Tynecastle crowd, Hearts would soon have their second. A clumsy foul by Juhani Ojala on Beni Baningime by the edge of the area meant one thing; a free kick with Stephen Kingsley's name written all over it. Taking just a few strides before connecting boot to ball, Kingsley's effort rocketed into the top left corner.
Cammy Devlin was at his energetic best, and when he was tripped in the second-half by Callum Slattery, Boyce had the chance to score a second penalty - but the resulting effort was parried by Kelly. No matter, a fine three points for the Jambos was in the bag!
Rangers 1-1 Hearts
A big test was next for Hearts in Govan, as table-topping Rangers looked to put a dent in Hearts' Premiership momentum. The home side looked set to see the job through after John Lundstram netted in the first half, but a last gasp equaliser in the 90th minute from Craig Halkett stunned the Ibrox crowd as we escaped Glasgow with a big point.
Indeed, it was Rangers who were in control of proceedings in the first 45: enjoying the lion's share of possession and chances as they hammered on Hearts' door. Craig Gordon had a busy day - warding off shots from Scott Wright, Ianis Hagi and Joe Aribo before blocking Leon Balogun twice in quick succession at a corner.
The half was drawing to a close when Rangers scored. Hagi whipped the ball into the area, forcing Hearts to clear. The ball fell favourably to Lundstram who took the shot from 25-yards, clipping Gordon's glove on the way in.
Barrie McKay and Cammy Devlin went close for Hearts as the JTs chased the game, but it was Craig Halkett who snatched a point in dramatic fashion - heading the ball past McGregor from a Mackay-Steven corner in the dying embers of the match. Cue pandemonium in the away end!
Hearts 1-1 Dundee
John Souttar scored with a tremendous first-time hit against Dundee, as Hearts were forced to settle for a point after more late drama.
The Jambos saw a glut of chances go astray as we probed for an early opener. Ben Woodburn was prominent in attack firing wide early doors before having another effort deflected off target. Liam Boyce's well worked headed effort crashed off the crossbar from a corner, whilst Craig Halkett's rebound nodded to safety by Leigh Griffiths.
Dundee were giving it a good go as well. Creative spark, Charlie Adam, had a pop from the free-kick, but his delivery was sent way over by the figure of Lee Ashcroft with the goal at his mercy. When the first goal arrived on 37 minutes, Tynecastle roared with approval. Woodburn laid the ball off to Souttar after being ushered out of the box by a tight Dundee line. The big defender then stroked the ball home from 20-yards in one clean strike to open the scoring.
Dundee's veteran marksman Cillian Sheridan kept Hearts with a shot which forced Craig Gordon into action. Heart's old enemy Jason Cummings, who had come on for Paul McMullan, was left free in the box to meet Cammy Kerr's long throw-in and thump a header past Gordon to leave Hearts with a point.
St. Johnstone 1-1 Hearts
Hearts had to settle for another point on the road after a 1-1 draw was recorded under the McDiarmid Park lights.
Saints were right in Hearts' face from the off on a soaking wet pitch in Perth. This early aggression quickly bore fruit when Cammy MacPherson's delivery was flicked on by Stevie May and, thanks to a deflection or two, all Liam Gordon had to do was apply a simple finish to hand the hosts the lead.
Both sides started tearing into each other; Ginnelly and Michael Smith going close for the Jambos, whilst St. Johnstone's appeals for a penalty after Gordon fouled Chris Kane were left unheard. It took some dogged midfield graft from Beni Baningime to send Hearts up the park - slipping in Ginnelly who blasted off to drill a low finish into the bottom corner past Zander Clark.
Aberdeen 2-1 Hearts
Hearts' long unbeaten run was finally brought to an end at Pittodrie, as Aberdeen won 2-1 to inflict our first Premiership defeat of the season.
John Souttar's first half penalty had Hearts in the driving seat, before Marley Watkins scored early into the second period to give the Jambos an uphill battle.
Lewis Ferguson headed in the eventual winner on 69 minutes after shrugging off the attention of his marker, with Andy Halliday also receiving a red card late on in the game.
Into November now as the temperatures drop...