Heart of Midlothian 2-0 Hamilton Academical
Wednesday 26th December 2018, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts recorded a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hamilton Accies at Tynecastle this afternoon.
First-half goals from Steven Naismith and Arnaud Djoum secured all three points, on an afternoon when Accies were reduced to ten men and the men in maroon missed a penalty.
Craig Levein made three changes from the side that lost at Aberdeen on Saturday. Djoum returned from suspension in the place of Ollie Bozanic, while Demi Mitchell missed out through suspension, with Ben Garrucio coming in for him and Callumn Morrison replaced Sean Clare.
Barely 30-seconds had registered and Hearts had had their first shot at goal. Aaron McGowan’s clearance fell to Olly Lee 25-yards out and he hit an ambitious volley but it was straight at Gary Woods in the Accies goal.
It should’ve been 1-0 90-seconds later. Morrison got the better of his man on the right and whipped a ball across the face of goal for the unmarked Naismith, but with the goal at his mercy he could only head wide.
Garuccio showed great skill to stop a counter attack in the 10th minute and tear down the left wing, crossing for Steven MacLean but the striker flashed his header well wide of the target as Hearts kept up the pressure.
The deadlock was broken after 18 minutes and it was for the men in maroon. Garuccio showed his man a clean pair of heels on the left before finding Naismith just inside the box, and he had time to turn and face goal before planting a shot into Woods’ far left corner.
A quick-thinking free-kick nearly saw Hearts double the lead in the 32nd minute. Naismith was fouled by Ziggy Gordon inside the Accies half and quickly took the set piece, sending MacLean into the Accies box. His shot beat Woods but it rose all the way and cleared the bar.
With a minute of the half remaining it was 2-0. Naismith chased down a lose ball inside the Accies box and knocked it back to Morrison who crossed back into the box and the ball landed into the path of Djoum, who slammed home from close range.
The Jambos spurned a chance to go three up 11 minutes after the restart. Lee’s free kick was hooked into the box for Peter Haring to win a header and knock down to Djoum, who mishit a shot into the path of Michael Smith, but the full-back blasted over from ten yards.
Three minutes later Hearts hit the woodwork. Naismith played a defence-splitting ball left of centre for Lee to fire across the face of goal, which ran out to Morrison, and from an angle he blasted an effort that beat woods but skimmed the crossbar on its way over.
The Jambos were denied a third on the hour mark by a superb last-ditch tackle. Substitute Clare was played through by Naismith and he raced into the box to knock it sideways to Djoum, but he was denied a certain goal by Scott Martin, who followed him back and made a crucial block just in front of the line.
Accies’ afternoon went bad to worse when they were reduced to ten men in the 70th minute. Naismith turned Want but had his shirt pulled as he broke away, and referee Don Robertson showed him a second yellow followed by a red.
Hearts were gifted an opportunity from the spot with 13 minutes remaining when Gordon was judged to have handled the ball when trying to shadow the ball out of play under pressure from substitute Jake Mulraney, but Michael Smith’s penalty came crashing back off the underside of the crossbar and the danger was cleared.
A spectacular Lee strike nearly bagged Hearts’ third with two minutes remaining. He received the ball 30-yards out and blasted a thunderbolt on target that Woods did well to tip over the bar.
That was all she wrote as Hearts coasted to a victory that will boost confidence ahead of Saturday’s Edinburgh derby at Easter Road.
Hearts: Doyle, Smith, Haring (Bozanic, 80'), Berra, Lee, Djoum (Mulraney, 73'), Naismith, Garuccio, MacLean (Clare, 59'), Godinho, Morrison. Subs: Zlamal, Hughes, McDonald, Hickey.
Hamilton: Woods, McGowan, McMann, Gordon, Tshiembe (Sowah, 10'), Imrie, Miller (Bingham, 52'), Taiwo, Want, Martin, Brustad (Boyd, 73'). Subs: Marsden, Gogic, Bloomfield, Monlouis.
Referee: Don Robertson