Hearts moved into second place in the Ladbrokes Premiership following a thrilling victory over Hamilton Accies in today’s clash at Tynecastle.
The Jambos took advantage of Rangers’ defeat to Celtic to leapfrog the Ibrox outfit into second spot, but were made to work hard for their result.
Ali Crawford gave the visitors the lead 5 mins into the second half, but an inspired substitution from Robbie Neilson saw Sam Nicholson come into the game and bring it to life.
The winger set up two goals and fired home the vital third goal to earn Hearts a thoroughly deserved win after a fine first-half display.
Robbie Neilson made one change from the side that was victorious at Firhill before the international break, with Jamie Walker coming into the side in place of Sam Nicholson, the winger feeling the effects of a gruelling trip back from Ukraine with the Scotland U21s.
The Jambos started on the front foot as Jamie Walker was first to threaten. Conor Sammon played in the wide man, but his left footed effort was easily saved by Remi Matthews in the visitors’ goal.
Tony Watt was next to threaten, with some trademark dazzling footwork creating some space, but his 20 yard effort was straight at Matthews. Then, Sammon was sent through on goal but a fine last-ditch challenge from Georgios Sarros deflected the shot for a corner.
From the set-piece, Callum Paterson rose superbly to meet Don Cowie’s cross, but his header was just over the bar. Paterson threatened again soon after, but this time his header went wide of Matthews’ left-hand post.
It was one-way traffic at this point, as Watt was next to threaten. Paterson’s low cross was laid off expertly by Sammon to Watt, but his effort lacked conviction. After this, Watt cut into the Accies penalty area and went down under a clumsy challenge from Sean Want, but was booked for simulation.
As the half drew to a close, Sammon was played through on goal, but his left-foot shot went just wide, before Paterson and Faycal Rherras both tried their luck from range, but failed to hit the target.
The visitors took the lead with their first attack of the 2nd half. Grant Gillespie beat Paterson down the right, and his low cross was volleyed home by Ali Crawford.
Jamie Walker nearly equalised on 55 minutes, but his superb volley came crashing off the post with Remi Matthews beaten, and the rebounded effort from Cowie was saved well by the keeper.
In an effort to salvage something from the game, Robbie Neilson threw on Sam Nicholson and Bjorn Johnsen and the move paid almost immediate dividends.
Some dazzling wing play from Nicholson saw him skin Gillespie and fire in a superb cross that was brilliantly headed home by Jamie Walker.
Hearts were well on top now, and Johnsen nearly put the Jambos in front. A deep cross from Paterson was met by the American but his header went just wide.
Immediately after, Paterson headed the ball in under the cross bar but it was cleared off the line, before his acrobatic volley was saved in style by Matthews.
Nicholson, however, was still on the hunt and the substitute made the difference again. First to a loose ball at the edge of the box, the winger flew past Sean Want and the Accies defender was left with no choice but to bring him down. Jamie Walker stepped up from the spot and put the Jambos into a thoroughly deserved lead, sending Matthews the wrong way.
Accies pressed hard for an equaliser, but the Jambos hit them on the counter in stoppage time. Robbie Muirhead's deep cross was brought down brilliantly by the super sub Nicholson, who fired home a great strike to round off a wonderful half-hour from the talented winger.
Full time immediately followed, and Hearts sit second in the Scottish Premiership table.
Hearts: Hamilton; Paterson, Souttar, Rossi, Rherras; Walker, Cowie, Kitchen, Djoum (Nicholson '62); Sammon (Johnsen '62), Watt (Muirhead '71). Subs not used: Noring, Ozturk, Buaben, L.Smith.
Hamilton: Matthews; Lyon, Seaborne (Want '19), Sarris, Gillespie; Donati; Imrie, MacKinnon, Docherty (Redmond '76), Crawford; D'Acol (Bingham '54). Subs not used: Kurtaj, Longridge, Brophy, Thomson.
Referee: Craig Thomson
Top Man: Sam Nicholson