Hearts had to win ugly at Tynecastle on Saturday to see off Raith Rovers 1-0.
Alim Ozturk’s early stunning strike was all that separated the two teams, as Hearts fell away in the second-half despite being on top in the first.
The Jambos took to the field with three changes to the side that drew with Hibs two weeks previously. Brad McKay and Jamie Walker came in for the injured Danny Wilson and Osman Sow, while Jordan McGhee replaced the suspended Callum Paterson.
Unbelievably, the game started with Ozturk scoring another long-range raker, from a similar distance to his derby strike. The Turk strode into the Raith half before unleashing from around 35-yards and ‘keeper Davie McGurn could not keep out his powerful thunderbolt.
The centre-half tried his luck again moments later with a 25-yard free-kick, which he curled agonisingly wide of McGurn’s left-hand post.
Though Hearts had the bulk of possession, Raith gave Tynecastle a timely reminder that they could threaten the home goal. Paul Watson’s looping 29th minute header from inside the box landed on the roof of the net.
A quick breakaway in the 35th minute saw Jamie Walker feed Soufian El Hassnaoui at the edge of the box, and though he twisted past his marker, his low piledriver was stopped well McGurn.
Hearts introduced James Keatings and Jason Holt early in the second-half, but it was Raith who seemed to grow in confidence as time went on – aided by several misplaced passes and some sloppy defending by the men in maroon.
Chances were few and far between for both sides and Hearts had to play the final six minutes with ten men as Adam Eckersley went off injured and all three subs had been made.
Raith continued to take the upper hand going forward. Neil Alexander had to be alert to stop Mark Stewart’s effort from the edge of the box, the Hearts no. 1 pouncing to his right to smother the ball.
Minutes later his fluffed clearance landed at the feet of Liam Fox, who tried his luck from 40-yards but Alexander managed to track back in time to pluck the ball from the air.
The final whistle came as a relief to those inside the ground as Hearts’ unbeaten Championship run continues.
Hearts: Alexander, Ozturk, Gomis, Walker (Buchanan, 78'), El Hassnaoui (Keatings, 52'), Nicholson (Holt, 60'), King, Buaben, McKay, McGhee, Eckersley. Subs: Gallacher, McHattie, Pallardo, McKirdy.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Perry, Watson, Fox, Anderson, Moon (Conroy, 78'), Elliot, Scott, McKay (Stewart, 66'), McKeoen. Subs: Laidlaw, Hill, Callachan, Vaughan, Nade.
Referee: Crawford Allan
Top Man: Alim Ozturk