Hearts fell to a 1-0 home defeat to Ross County this evening.
Despite seeing most of the possession, it was the Staggies who left with all three points courtesy of Alex Schalk’s second-half goal.
Ian Cathro made four changes from the side that lost to Partick Thistle last weekend. Don Cowie, Sam Nicholson, Choulay and Bjorn Johnsen made the starting line up, with Faycal Rherras and Rory Currie moving to the bench, while Isma missed out through suspension and Jamie Walker through injury.
The visitors had the game’s first half chance after 10 minutes. Marcus Fraser burst down the left before hitting a low drive from 20-yards which flew well wide of Jack Hamilton’s right-hand post.
Two minutes later Arnaud Djoum opened up play with a pass inside to Andraz Struna. The Slovenian carried the ball deep into the Ross County half before drilling straight at Scott Fox.
Johnsen showed great feet at the edge of the box in the 20th minute after being fed by Nicholson, but he could only blast high over the bar.
Jay McEveley went close to opening the scoring three minutes later, lashing goalward after getting on the end of a knockdown, but he fired inches wide of the target.
The woodwork came to Ross County’s rescue in the 33rd minute. Djoum showed great strength to spin away from his man and hit a rocket shot from 25-yards which crashed off the crossbar, and Johnsen ballooned the rebound over.
Schalk stung the palms of Hamilton with a looping effort from distance, but the Hearts ‘keeper saw it coming all the way.
Hamilton then denied Schalk again, making a good save with his legs when the County striker cut inside and shot low from inside the box.
Five minutes into the restart Ross County took the lead. Jason Naismith’s ball into the Hearts box wasn’t cleared by Alex Tziolis and Schalk pounced to curl a wonderful effort around Hamilton.
Schalk went close again after 64 minutes, getting on the end of Naismith’s cross but he could only head straight at Hamilton.
Hearts were again denied by the crossbar, this time in the 80th minute. His initial shot at the edge of the box was blocked, but with his follow up the Greek defender smacked the ball off the bar.
Substitute Malaury Martin played a wonderful ball to the back door with five minutes remaining, but there were no maroon takers as time began to run out for the Jambos.
Rory Currie, on as a seocnd-half substitute forced Fox into a save after hitting an effort from distance, and with that it was time up.
Hearts: Hamilton, Struna, Nowak, Avlonitis, Sowah, Tziolis, Cowie (Martin, 78'), Djoum, Choulay (Currie, 67'), Nicholson, Johnsen (Bikey, 77'). Subs: Noring, Rherras, Kitchen, Buaben.
Ross County: Fox, Fraser, Naismith, McEveley (Tumilty, 78'), Woods (O'Brien, 68'), Boyce, Curran, Chow, Davies, Schalk (Gardyne, 81'), Van Der Weg. Subs: McCarey, Dow, Lalkovic, Dykes.
Referee: Alan Muir