Hearts ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against a spirited Alloa side at Tynecastle this evening.
Callum Paterson set the Jambos on their way to victory, with second-half goals added by Danny Wilson and Soufian El Hassnaoui.
Robbie Neilson shuffled his pack for this game, making no less than seven changes from the side that lost out 2-1 to Rangers three days ago.
Jack Hamilton, Brad McKay, El Hassnaoui, Billy King, James Keatings and Adam Eckersley were all drafted in from the start as the head coach looked to make full use of his squad, with an Edinburgh derby only four days away.
Following a drab opening the spell the game finally sprung into life in the 29th minute. Wilson cut back at the byeline for the advancing Keatings, but he was denied by the post.
Moments later Morgaro Gomis tried his luck from distance, hitting a low effort form 25 yards, however Craig McDowall got down quickly to make a fine block.
Wing wizard King was next to threaten, he managed to thread his way past four Alloa shirts from the byeline before scooping the ball over the bar from four yards out – though the angle was against him.
It was all Hearts by this point, and with three minutes to go until half-time the deadlock was broken. Paterson cut inside from the right and carried the ball forward before drilling a rocket shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner, via a slight deflection.
Four minutes after the restart, Hearts doubled their lead. Keatings’ corner from the right was met by Wilson, who rose to power a header past the helpless McDowall.
The Alloa ‘keeper was at his best to deny Sam Nicholson from point blank range. The Hearts winger was unmarked at the back post and headed Paterson’s deep cross goalward, but McDowall instinctively stuck out a hand to make the block.
The visitors did threaten and Iain Flannigan’s 25-yard drive flew inches wide of Hamilton’s right-hand post.
Any hope of getting a foot back in the door were extinguished though when El Hassnaoui made it 3-0. He pounced at the edge of the box after substitute Miguel Pallardo's tackle, hitting a stunning half-volley beyond McDowall.
Flannigan again went close, this time clipping the outside of the post from a 25-yard free-kick as Hamilton threw himself across his line.
Referee Andrew Dallas turned down a strong penalty appeal from Gary Oliver in the game’s final moments, but did send off Alloa’s Mark Docherty for a second yellow.
Another home victory for the Jambos, who continue to enjoy the finest of seasons.
Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, Wilson, Gomis (Pallardo, 65'), El Hassanaoui, Nicholson, King, Keatings (Oliver, 60'), Anderson, McKay (McGhee, 78'), Eckersley. Subs: Alexander, McHattie, Walker, Sow.
Alloa Athletic: McDowall, Ferguson, Gordon, Benedictus, Tiffoney (Roberts, 60'), Flannigan, Holmes (Chopra, 73'), McCord, Cawley, Buchanan (Layne, 73'). Subs: Gibson, Spence, Rutherford, Hetherington.
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Top man: Soufian El Hassnaoui