Hearts cruised to a 3-0 victory at Hamilton Accies this evening.
An uneventful first period was cancelled out by a goalfest in the second half. Ross Callachan set the Jambos on their way before David Milinkovic and Dario Zanatta secured all three points.
Craig Levein made four changes to the side that dumped Hibs out of the Scottish Cup last weekend. Ross Callachan returned from injury, Don Cowie and Lewis Moore were handed starts and Andrew Irving was given his first-team debut. Aaron Hughes, Arnaud Djoum and Milinkovic moved to the bench while Isma missed out altogether.
The Jambos created a chance less than a minute in. Steven Naismith found Demetri Mitchell on the left and his low drive across the face of goal missed the far post by inches.
Mitchell was involved at the other end moments later, getting inbetween David Templeton and the ball as the Accies man threatened to go one-on-one with Jon McLaughlin but the ‘keeper was able to gather safely.
Nathan Redmond nearly capitalised in the 15th minute after robbing Moore of possession and bursting into the box, but his shot was low and straight at McLaughlin.
It would be nearly 20 minutes until the next sight of goal. Templeton danced his way towards the box but with options around him elected to pull the trigger himself, with his effort clearing McLaughlin’s right-hand post.
Accies had another chance with four minutes of the half remaining. Redmond’s looping corner to the back post was cleared by Irving but straight into the path of Templeton, who smashed a first-time volley low and on target, forcing McLaughlin to push the ball around the near post.
Three minutes into the second-half Hearts created a half chance. Irving collected the ball at the edge of the box and turned his man before stabbing goalwards only to see his shot deflected into the path of the unmarked Mitchell, whose first-time effort was blocked by an Accies defender before it could reach the top corner.
The Jambos had a penalty shout turned down in the 53rd minute when Moore showed great tenacity to drive into the Accies box before appearing to be bundled over from behind, but referee Nick Walsh waved play on.
After 67 minutes Hearts took the lead. Alex Gogic’s short backpass inside the Accies box was latched onto by Naismith who cut inside before sliding the ball across the face of goal for Callachan to simply tap home.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Irving’s raking ball forward was run on to by substitute Milinkovic who beat the offside trap to carry on into the box and slot beyond Gary Woods.
Accies went close with ten minutes remaining. Dougie Imrie’s corner landed right on top of McLaughlin but Gogic rose highest to slam a header over the bar.
The game was wrapped up with three minutes to go. Naismith pounced on a loose ball to drive forward to the edge of the box and feed Milinkovic, who did well to retain possession before chipping a ball back into the centre for substitute Zanatta to rattle home.
A great three points for the Jambos who now go 11 games unbeaten with 8 clean sheets in a row.
Hamilton Accies: Woods, McMann, Tomas, Imrie, Redmond (Rojano, 71'), Gogic, Templeton, MacKinnon, Lyon, Ferguson, Ogkmpoe. Subs: Fulton, Hughes, Tierney, Want, Cunningham, Kozoronis.
Hearts: McLaughlin, Randall, Souttar, Berra, Mitchell, Cochrane (Djoum, 46'), Irving, Callachan, Cowie (Zanatta, 84'), Naismith, Moore (Milinkovic, 61'). Subs: Hamilton, M. Smith, Hughes, McDonald.
Referee: Nick Walsh