Heart of Midlothian 0-0 Dundee United
Hearts drew 0-0 with Dundee United at Tynecastle on Saturday afternoon.
Neither side could beak the deadlock, though Dylan McGowan did have the ball in the back of the net only for it to be controversially disallowed.
Following Wednesday night's energy draining victory over Queen of the South, Gary Locke made two changes to his starting line up. Jordan McGhee replaced Brad McKay while David Smith came in for Gary Oliver.
Jason Holt, playing in an advanced midfield role, was first to trouble United goalkeeper Cierzniak. He ran onto a Paterson knock down on seven minutes and curled a shot at goal, though the 'keeper got down to his right to save.
A minute later Paterson almost put the Jambos one up. A thunderbolt free kick from David Smith made its way through a pack of bodies in the box to receive the deftest of touches from Paterson but Cierzniak was alert enough to make a smart block.
Nadir Ciftci and David Goodwilie proved they were no slouches at the other end. With ten minutes gone Ciftci accelerated down the left and away from McHattie before feeding Goodwillie who shot first time from the edge of the box, but the on-loan Blackburn striker could only hit the side netting.
Utd continued to try their luck from distance and on 21 minutes Goodwillie teed up Stuart Armstrong for a spectacular half volley from 25 yards but his effort rose high above the bar.
Goodwillie's first half display was a perfect reminder of why he once commanded a multi-million pound transfer. He sublimely took down a long ball after 23 minutes and found John Rankin in the middle of the park. The ex-Hibs man powered into the Hearts box and drilled a low shot on goal but the ball was beaten away by Jamie MacDonald.
Danny Wilson, goal hero against Queen of the South, almost made it two from two when he got on the end of a Jason Holt corner in the 25th minute, but he couldn't steer his effort on target.
With 33 minutes gone a moment of real quality was produced courtesy of Jamie Hamill. The midfielder received the ball 30 yards out from Holt and let fly at goal only to be denied by an outstanding save from Cierzniak who palmed the ball over the bar. From the resultant corner Wilson found himself unmarked in the box but his free header flew just over the bar.
Hearts had the ball in the back of the net minutes later only for the 'goal' to be disallowed. Paterson's long throw was misjudged by Cierzniak who could only palm it into the path of Dylan McGowan. The Aussie made no mistake from two yards but referee Steven McLean saw a push in the box and play restarted with a goal kick, much to the home fans' disbelief.
Dundee United responded by testing MacDonald. Keith Watson found himself with the ball at feet at the back door but his drive was beaten away well by the Hearts no. 1 at his near post before Armstrong headed wildly over with the rebound.
The sun continued to glisten around Tynecastle as the teams started the second half, and it was the visitors who almost got in front on 56 minutes. Ciftci dispossessed Hamill inside the Hearts half and swerved a shot at goal that MacDonald did well to dive and parry away.
Ciftci again almost broke the deadlock on 65 minutes as his shot from the edge of the box struck the foot of the post before bouncing clear. At this point the visiting side had stamped their authority on the match but were being held at bay by some excellent Hearts defending.
Ryan Stevenson made his long awaited return to action as a second half substitute and he was joined by Callum Tapping and Billy King as Robinson, Holt and Smith all made way.
Both teams continued to play passing football in the search for the winner. With 82 minutes gone Jamie Walker weaved his way through the Utd defence from the middle of the park but his shot on goal lacked any real power and Cierzniak gathered without too much trouble.
An end to end match was brought to a close moments after an attempted Stevenson overhead kick trundled wide. A draw seemed the fair result though Hearts supporters will question just why Dylan McGowan's first half goal was chopped off. The Jambos continue to chip away at the deficit as minus eight points becomes minus seven.
Hearts: MacDonald; McGhee, McGowan, Wilson, McHattie; Robinson (Tapping, 46'), Holt (Stevenson, 71'), Hamill; Walker, Paterson, Smith (B. King, 63'). Subs not used: Ridgers, McKay, Carrick, Oliver.
Dundee Utd: Cierzniak, Watson, Souttar, Dillon, Rbertson, Paton, Rankin, Gauld (Mackay-Steven, 67'), Armstrong, Ciftci, Goodwillie. Subs not used: McCallum, M. Wilson, Butcher, Graham, Dow, Petrie.
Referee: Steven McLean
Top man: Jordan McGhee