Heart of Midlothian 2-1 Aberdeen
Ten man Hearts produced a stunning performance to defeat Aberdeen 2-1 at Tynecastle on Saturday.
Jamie Walker's first half goal was cancelled out by a Niall McGinn penalty in the second half, from which Kevin McHattie was sent off. The Jambos responded with only four minutes to go when Jordan McGhee headed home the winner.
Following last week's tremendous comeback at Firhill the manager elected to make only change for this match. David Smith was replaced on the wing by Billy King as Hearts went with an attacking 4-2-3-1.
The visitors found themselves with a real scoring opportunity only three minutes in. A long ball forward saw Vernon spring the offside trap but as he moved into the box he couldn't get the ball out from underneath his feet, his subsequent weak shot was saved easily by Jamie Macdonald.
Jamie Walker tried his luck from distance two minutes later. He collected the ball on the halfway line and ran twenty yards before shooting, however it lacked any real power and failed to trouble Nicky Weaver in the Dons' goal.
On nine minutes Dylan McGowan rose to meet Jason Holt's corner, but the Aussie couldn't direct his header on target despite being unmarked.
Aberdeen's Mark Reynolds then had a free header of his own in the Hearts box, but like McGowan two minutes earlier he too could not steer the ball goalwards and the chance went wide.
It was the Jambos who broke the deadlock on 17 minutes. Walker again picked up the ball in the middle of the park and broke forward, cutting inside and evading Aberdeen challenges before unleashing a low drill from twenty yards that beat Walker and nestled into the back of the net.
Hearts could've doubled their lead three minutes later after some excellent trickery on the wing from Billy King. His inside ball found Jamie Hamill who stabbed at it first time from the edge of the box, much to his own annoyance, as he dragged the ball wide of the target.
Play then quietened down as both teams did battle in midfield, though the visitors could perhaps lay claim to having more possession as they looked to prise open the Hearts defence with a few inviting balls across the six yard box, though no white shirt could get on the end of them.
Nine minutes after the restart Walker produced a good save from the feet of Weaver. The winger let a throw-in run across his body before lashing a right foot shot from inside the box, though the Dons 'keeper was alert enough to block the ball on the deck.
Aberdeen could've equalised immediately after. Johnny Hayes burst down the right wing and crossed into the middle where Calvin Zola's glancing header beat the Hearts defence but flew past the wrong side of the post.
Billy King continued to terrorise the away defence. On 57 minutes he tore down the right channel before cutting inside and powering a low shot from the edge of the box, however it was met with a save by Weaver.
The Jambos suffered a blow on the hour mark when the outstanding Brad McKay was forced off with a head injury, he was replaced by 17 year old McGhee, who was making only his second top team appearance.
Disaster struck on 66 minutes when referee Allan Muir awarded a penalty after Kevin McHattie was judged to have brought down Zola in the box. The Hearts left back was red carded, as McGinn stepped up and slotted home from the spot.
An exquisite four man passing move saw Hamill go close to grabbing a winner with ten minutes to go. He was teed-up twenty yards out but his half-volley bounced agonisingly past Weaver's left hand post.
The Aberdeen fans thought they had won it with five minutes remaining. A ball in from the left was met by McGinn in the six yard box, but his header cleared the bar.
A minute later Tynecastle resembled the din of a jumbo jet engine as the Jambos took the lead again. A long ball to the back door saw Weaver come off his line to collect, however McGhee met the ball first and steered his header around the 'keeper and into the back of the net.
Macdonald, a virtual spectator for most of the match, pulled off a stunning reflex save from Josh Magennis' header a minute into injury time to keep Hearts in front.
And in front they stayed. Another vital win for Hearts, as the points penalty is reduced to eight.
Hearts: Macdonald; McGowan, McKay (McGhee, 61'), Wilson, McHattie; Hamill, Robinson, Holt; Walker (Smith, 75'), Paterson, B. King (Tapping, 68'). Subs not used: Ridgers, A. King, Tapping, Nicholson, Oliver.
Aberdeen: Weaver, Shaughnessy, Robertson (Wylde, 73'), Reynolds, Flood, Vernon (Zola, 52'), McGinn, Hayes, Pawlett (Magennis, 82), Jack, Hector. Subs not used: Rogers, Anderson, Low, Considine.
Referee: Alan Muir
Top man: Jason Holt