Hearts suffered the agony of losing an injury time goal as Dundee ran out 2-1 winners at Dens Park this afternoon.
Kerr Waddell’s first-half header was cancelled out by Kyle Lafferty’s close-range strike, but three minutes into time added on Waddell rose to head home the game’s winner.
Craig Levein made two changes from the side that drew at Partick Thistle a week ago. Kyle Lafferty returned from illness while 16-year-old Harry Cochrane was handed his professional debut. Don Cowie missed out with a hamstring injury and Rafal Grzelak moved to the bench.
Hearts started brightly with Lafferty trying a speculative effort on the half-volley from 25-yards but he couldn’t angle his shot on target and Scott Bain was untroubled.
The Jambos were dealt an early blow with the loss of Aaron Hughes to injury, he was replaced by Prince Buaben.
It was almost 1-0 to the visitors inside ten minutes. Dundee tried to play out from the back but Bain’s clearance bounced back off of Jamie Walker, only for the ball to trundle inches wide of the post.
The hosts had a decent chance of their own after 16 minutes. Kevin Holt’s corner to the back post was met by Darren O’Dea but he bulleted over the bar.
Six minutes later Dundee moved the ball across the pitch before finding Lewis Spence 18-yards out and he dragged his shot well wide of Jon McLaughlin’s left-hand post.
Hearts went straight up the park with Ross Callachan feeding Connor Randall on the right and he drilled low across the face of goal and a yard or two wide of the post.
The deadlock was broken a minute before half time. Holt floated in a corner and Waddell rose highest to nod into the bottom corner of the net.
A quick Dundee breakaway three minutes into the second half saw Roarie Deacon spin away from Randall at the edge of the box before curling an effort on target but the ball sailed straight into McLaughlin’s arms.
Two minutes later Isma showed his strength and skill to work his way to the byline and hit a low cross, which took a knick off a Dundee player and moved the ball towards the goal, however Bain was alert enough to make the stop on his line.
The woodwork denied Hearts an equaliser on the hour mark. John Souttar’s raking ball forward flew over the top of O’Dea’s head and Isma ran on to it and thundered an effort beyond Bain but the ball cannoned off the crossbar.
Dundee went immediately up the park and passed up great opportunity to double their lead. Mark O’Hara got to the byline and his low cross wasn’t cleared, but Sofien Moussa stabbed at the ball and McLaughlin made a comfortable close-range save.
A horrendous backpass from Moussa on 70 minutes led to Hearts getting back on level terms. The Dens striker, from just inside his own half, tried to play it back to Bain but was too short and Lafferty latched onto the ball and rounded the ‘keeper before sliding it home from a tight angle.
Hearts were playing with their tails up by this point and went close to taking the lead with 14 minutes remaining. Walker danced past several home shirts before playing a one-two with Randall but his powerful drive was well blocked by Bain.
Bain again came to the rescue moments later. Walker picked up a loose ball and drilled towards the far corner only for the ‘keeper to dive to his left and touch the ball onto the post.
With a minute remaining Hearts broke with Walker sending Lafferty clear down the left but he could only fire into the side netting.
Deep into stoppage time substitute Leitch-Smith fired a great shot at goal but McLaughlin pulled off a superb save to turn the ball around the post.
From the corner, Dundee scored the winner. McGowan’s corner was met by Waddell, who again was able to power home a free header.
Dundee: Bain, Holt, O'Dea, (Kerr, 65'), Kamara, Moussa (Leitch-Smith, 78'), O'Hara, McGowan, Deacon (El Bakhtaoui, 83'), Hendry, Spence, Waddell. Subs: Parish, Allan, Aurtenetxe, Wolters.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Souttar, Berra, Hughes (Buaben, 7'), Randall, Walker, Cochrane, (Milinkovic, 73') Callachan, M.Smith, Lafferty, Isma. Subs: Hamilton, Grzelak, Henderson, Martin, Stockton.
Referee: Steven MacLean