Hearts battled to a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle at Tynecastle.
Arnaud Djoum’s 24th minute header was all that separated the two sides, as the Jambos made it three home wins in a week.
Robbie Neilson made two changes from the side that beat ICT during midweek; Don Cowie and Juanma replaced Gavin Reilly and Abiola Dauda.
Hearts very nearly took the lead only three minutes in. Jamie Walker showed great persistence to weave his way into the Thistle box, rounding the goalkeeper, but he scuffed his shot at the crucial moment and Arnaud Djoum’s follow-up was blocked behind.
Thistle then went close themselves. Steven Lawless’ cross to the back post was met by Mathias Pogba, whose powerful header was brilliantly touched up onto the bar and over by Neil Alexander.
Juanma had the ball in the back of the net after a quarter of an hour. He took down a long ball before turning and curling low beyond Tomas Cerny, but referee Bobby Madden pulled play back, deciding that the Spanish striker had fouled his man in the build up.
The Jambos steadied themselves and went in search of the opener. Alim Ozturk’s 24th-minute free-kick was deflected narrowly over, and from the resultant corner Cerny spectacularly palmed Igor Rossi’s close-range header over the bar.
That didn’t stop the Gorgie boys, who then scored from their second corner. Cowie floated the ball to the back door for Djoum to bullet home a header and open the scoring.
Jamie Walker had a penalty shout turned down in the 36th minute, getting to the byline and going down under the challenge of Callum Booth, but Madden waved away the protests and pointed to the corner flag. One short corner later, Walker spun inside and drilled low on target, forcing Cerny to turn the ball behind.
The Jambos were impressing with set pieces, and Ozturk’s clever pass down the line saw Cowie float a ball over to the unmarked Rossi, but he failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.
Walker was on a mission, and seconds into the restart burst forward to drive low, but straight at Cerny.
Cowie was having an excellent game in the middle of the park, and his tenacity nearly paid off when he robbed his man at the byline to send a low cross to the front post, which Juanma scooped over the bar under some intense pressure from a visiting defender.
Substitute Dauda got straight into the middle of the action, with Walker pressing forward then playing to the edge of the box, but the Nigerian blasted well over the target.
Walker did well to win a 50-50 ball which landed at the feet of Cowie, hugging the touchline, who played a clever ball inside for Nicholson to hammer low and straight at Cerny.
The visitors piled the pressure on in the closing stages, but the defence held still and the Jambos close the gap on second-placed Aberdeen to six points.
Hearts: Alexander, L.Smith, Ozturk, Souttar, Rossi (McGhee, 78') Cowie, Djoum (Dauda, 68'), Buaben, Nicholson, Walker, Juanma (Reilly, 85'). Subs: Hamilton, Augustyn, Pallardo, Zanatta.
Partick Thistle: Cerny, Miller, Seaborne, Welsh, Booth, Osman, Amoo (Nesbitt, 77'), Bannigan (Edwards, 45'), Lawless, Lindsay, Pogba (Doolan, 82'). Subs: Scully, German, Elliott, Fraser.
Referee: Bobby Madden
Top Man: Don Cowie