Hearts ran riot in Dumbarton this afternoon, winning 5-1.
Braces from Sam Nicholson and debutant Genero Zeefuik, complimented by a Jamie Walker goal saw the Gorgie boys run out comfortable winners, with Chris Kane grabbing a solitary reply for the hosts.
Robbie Neilson had no hesitations about throwing new boy Genero Zeefuik straight into the mix, he partnered James Keatings up-front as the Jambos went 4-4-2.
With a brutal wind flowing through the park, Hearts began with their usual passing game. Callum Paterson skinned his marker in the fourth minute to send over a cross from the right but James Keatings could only flash his header across the face of goal at the near post.
The home side looked to make the most of having the wind at their backs. Danny Wilson conceded an early foul and Scot Agnew’s 20-yard free-kick hit Neil Alexander’s side netting.
Moments later Hearts took the lead. Nicholson carried the ball forward and drilled an effort beyond Danny Rogers and into the back of the net from all of 30-yards out.
Buoyed by this, the men in maroon began shooting from distance. Zeefuik ran across the face of the pitch before letting fly from 25-yards but Rogers got down well to parry clear.
Hearts were afforded space on the wings and Adam Eckersley looked to capitalise, but his 11th minute ball to the back door just evaded the outstretched Keatings.
The Jambos had the woodwork to thank for maintain their lead. Chris Turner’s looping header had Alexander beaten but the ball crashed back off the crossbar.
The Hearts no. 1 was at his best just minutes later to deny Mark Gilhaney on a one-on-one situation, before Turner’s rebound was cleared off the line by Alim Ozturk.
New signing Zeefuik played a crucial part in Hearts’ second goal. He plucked the ball from the air before slipping in Jamie Walker, and his powerful effort went through Rogers and into the bottom corner.
Walker almost turned provider just after when he teed up Keatings inside the box, but the striker’s shot took a deflection across the face of goal and out for a corner.
Alexander again denied Gilhaney, this time after 35 minutes, when he dispossessed Nicholson at the edge of the box and thundered an effort at goal but couldn’t beat the ‘keeper at his near post.
Hearts should’ve went in 3-0 up at the break. A sublime Nicholson pass sent Walker clear inside the box but he waited until the last minute to pull the trigger, by which time the angle was too tight and he hit the side netting.
The Jambos started the second-half with a bang; Keatings rattled the crossbar from 20-yards out before Paterson’s snapshot deep inside the box fell inches wide of Rogers’ right-hand post.
Only six minutes into the restart, debut boy Zeefuik grabbed a goal. Nicholson and Walker tormented the home defence down the left before the latter’s cross found the Dutch striker inside the six-yard box who tapped home to make it 3-0.
It was 4-0 after 57 minutes. Walker’s cross from the right found Nicholson unmarked and he strode into the six-yard box to slam home.
By this point, Hearts looked like scoring every time they went forward. And score they did in the 62nd minute. Paterson sent Walker flying down the right and he picked out Zeefuik in the middle for his second of the game.
Much to the Hearts fans’ delight, Dumbarton grabbed a goal back to make the scoreline 5-1. Chris Kane lashed his effort low and past Alexander on the edge of the box.
Moments later Walker was fouled in the box and referee John Beaton pointed to the spot. Zeefuik stepped up for his hat-trick but saw his penalty and rebound saved by Rogers.
The Dumbarton ‘keeper was at his best to deny Nicholson and Keatings, while at the other end Alexander stopped from Agnew.
Hearts continued to plough forward in search of more goals, but were unsuccessful despite some brilliant attacking play.
A near-perfect performance from Robbie’s lads who still sit proudly on top of the Championship, unbeaten.
Dumbarton: Rogers, Linton, van Zanten, Graham, Mair, Turner, Gilhaney, Agnew, Nish (Taggart, 70'), Campbell (Megginson, 54'), Kane (McCallum, 89'). Subs: Ewings, Fleming, Whitefield.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Wilson, Ozturk, Gomis (King, 80'), Walker, Nicholson, Buaben (Pallardo, 74'), Keatings, Zeefuik (Holt, 67'), Eckersley. Subs: Hamilton, Oliver, McKay, McGhee.
Referee: John Beaton
Top man: Sam Nicholson