Next up in our season 2021/22 review; December...
Celtic 1-0 Hearts
Controversy surrounded the Jambos’ narrow loss at Celtic Park.
Robbie’s boys put in a dominating second-half display but were undone by Kyogo’s first-half strike from an offside position.
Stephen Kingsley headed wide from Barrie McKay’s corner while McKay, who was subjected to a shower of missiles when taking corners, saw an effort deflected wide.
With four minutes to go, the men in maroon nearly levelled. McKay played in Gary Mackay-Steven through on goal, he appeared to be tripped in the area before McKay agonisingly fired the ball across goal and wide of target.
It was a sore one to take but the chance to get back on the horse presented itself only three days later in West Lothian…
Livingston 0-1 Hearts
It was back to winning ways at the Tony Macaroni Arena with a hard-fought win over Livingston.
Despite a slow start by the Jambos, the deadlock was to be broken four minutes into the second half. John Souttar drove past half way and swept a ball forward for McKay.
McKay’s deft touch was superb and played Boyce clean through on goal, and he made no mistake in smashing the ball home past Max Stryjek to send the 3,700 visiting fans wild.
Hearts 0-2 Rangers
Hearts suffered a first home defeat of the league season when Rangers visited Tynecastle on December 12th.
Although the Jambos turned in one of their best performances against the Ibrox side in recent times, they were made to pay for passing up chances but an early couple of goals.
Rangers opened the scoring with a classic sucker punch. Fashion Sakala got past Cammy Devlin on the byline and squared for Alfredo Morelos to finish.
The visitors scored again shortly after. A long ball over the top caught out the Hearts defence and Joe Aribo was able to take the ball down and fire past Craig Gordon.
Matters were made worse with ten minutes remaining when Josh Ginnelly was shown a second yellow card for getting involved in a ruckus by the touch line after a challenge by Devlin on Borna Barisic.
Dundee 0-1 Hearts
If there was one thing this team possessed it was resilience and they showed at Dens Park to immediately bounce back from defeat.
Played out in challenging conditions, with a thick fog making visibility near impossible, it took the introduction of Jamie Walker on the hour mark for the Jambos to make the breakthrough.
With 15 minutes remaining, fellow sub Aaron McEneff was teed up at the edge of the area, his low shot deflected off Liam Fontaine, trickled across the goal line after hitting the post and there was Walker to smash the ball high into the net.
Hearts held on to claim a big three points as their march towards third place and Europe continued.
Hearts 2-1 Ross County
The Jam Tarts signed off 2021 with another victory, as this would be the final game of the year due to tighter Covid restrictions being reintroduced and the winter break brought forward.
Back to playing in a supporter-less Tynecastle Park, the maroons got off the perfect start inside four minutes.
Ben Woodburn did superbly to beat his marker on the edge of the area, he squared for McEneff whose first time shot was saved by Ross Laidlaw but Michael Smith arrived first to bury the rebound.
It was 2-0 on 42 minutes after a superb bit of play. Peter Haring won the ball deep in the Hearts half and pinged a superb pass which Woodburn killed stone dead, he ran at the defence with McKay and McEneff making decoy runs either side and his shot from the edge of the area took a deflection and trickled in to give the Welshman a well deserved goal.
The visitors rallied and pulled one back with 18 minutes remaining, when after a counter attack, Joseph Hungbo squared for Jordan White who converted via the post.
The closing stages were nervy but Hearts saw it out to end 2021 well clear in third place.