Hearts hit the goal trail in Gorgie to see off Queen of the South on Saturday.
Ian Russell cancelled out James Keatings’ opener, but strikes from Danny Wilson, Prince Buaben and Adam Eckersley ensured that the Jambos’ unbeaten Championship run remains intact.
Wilson returned to the starting line-up for the first time in over a month, while Robbie Buchanan made his first start in a maroon shirt as the Jambos shaped up in a 4-4-2 formation.
It was the home side who registered the first shot on target, courtesy of Alim Ozturk. His 35-yard low drive made Alexander lark scramble to his right, but the ‘keeper made a comfortable save in the end.
The Jambos nearly took the lead moments later after a lovely passing move between Buchanan and Callum Paterson, the former teeing up the latter inside the box, but the Scotland man dragged his shot wide from 15-yards.
Robbie’s lads looked comfortable in possession, playing their trademark neat passing game. Keatings found himself with a path to goal in the 11th minute, but his curling shot was always rising and cleared the crossbar with a few inches to spare.
Tynecastle erupted in the 20th minute as Hearts took the lead. Wilson’s long ball forward was latched onto by Keatings, and his first-time volley from the edge of the box sailed over Alexander Clark in the Queens goal and into the back of the net.
The opening goal gave the men in maroon the confidence to go and play with their tails up. Paterson cut inside from his man and blasted an effort at goal that Clark did well to push around the post.
From the resultant corner, Paterson was bundled over inside the box by Andrew Dowie and referee Craig Charleston pointed the spot. Prince Buaben stepped up but drilled his spot-kick off Clark’s right-hand post.
The penalty miss didn’t put Hearts off their stride, as minutes later Jamie Walker won the ball in the middle of the park before driving through the centre of the pitch, past a few blue shirts and into the box, and though his low shot beat the ‘keeper it didn’t beat the Queens defender on the edge of the six-yard box.
The visitors looked lively after the restart and Neil Alexander had to be at his best to keep the Jambos in front. Queens’ Ian McShane left fly from 25-yards but the Heats no.1 pounced to his left to make the block.
55 minutes in, Queens were given a penalty of their own after Walker nudged McShane at the edge of the box. Russell duly dispatched past Alexander to level the score.
Alexander was on inspired form as he pulled off another great save in the 64th minute, when he blocked Christopher Higgins’ bullet header from a Queens corner.
At the other end, Mark Durnan almost turned Eckersley’s cross into his own net, but from the corner that followed, Hearts once again took the lead. Keatings’ cross bounced in the area before connecting with Wilson’s head, and the captain steered the ball into the back of the net.
The Gorgie boys made sure of all-three points in the 73rd minute thanks to Buaben. Wilson’s searching pass found the midfield maestro who turned beautifully away from his man and into the box, holding off a Queens challenge before slotting low across the face of goal and beyond Clark.
It was game over with 12 minutes remaining as Eckersley made it 4-1. Hearts hit the visitors on the break with Paterson’s pinpoint pass forward releasing Billy King, who did all the donkey work before setting up the Englishman to place his effort past Clark from inside the box.
A potentially tricky match that Hearts pass with flying colours and remain out in front at the top of the Championship.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Wilson, Ozturk, Walker (McGhee, 75'), King, Pallardo, Buaben, Keatings (Flanagan, 86'), Buchanan (Robinson, 62'), Eckersley. Subs: Gallacher, El Hassnaoui, McKay, McKirdy.
Queen of the South: Clark, Dowie, Durnan, Higgins, K. Holt, McShane, Kerr (Lyle, 46'), Russell, Kidd, Reilly (Carmichael, 79'), Dzierzawski (Baird, 70'). Subs: Atkinson, Fowler, Hooper, Paton.
Referee: Craig Charleston
Top man: Prince Buaben