Hearts secured a comfortable 3-1 victory over ten-man Alloa Athletic at the Indodrill Stadium today.
Fine left-footed strikes from Andy Irving and Elliott Frear had the Jam Tarts two up at the break, before Lucas Williamson was dismissed late on for a second yellow.
Kevin Cawley nodded home to set up the prospect of a nervous last few minutes for Hearts, but sub Josh Ginnelly sealed the win with a breakaway goal in stoppage time, scoring into an empty net after Alloa keeper Neil Parry had gone up for a free kick.
There was a place on the bench for new signing Gary Mackay-Steven, with starts for Euan Henderson, Frear and Jordan Roberts.
After a stodgy opening, Hearts carved out an opportunity. Craig Halkett led a counter attack from defence and was on the end of a Michael Smith cross, but headed wide.
Roberts had started in a central role with Henderson wide, but with chances at a premium, Henderson moved up front, and had the game’s first real chance.
Andy Halliday slipped the ball through for Henderson, who drew a save from keeper Parry. Moments later, Hearts took the lead.
The ball wasn’t cleared properly from a set piece, and it fell to Andy Irving outside the area. The midfielder set himself and lashed a stunning strike that flew past Parry into the top corner of the net.
Hearts doubled their lead just before half time, when Jamie Walker played a neat one-two with Roberts, before chipping to the back post for Frear who smashed home a first-time volley at the back post.
Robbie Neilson introduced Mackay-Steven at the interval for Roberts, with his direct running causing problems early on. Liam Boyce was next off the bench, and he shot wide on a counter with a deflection taking it wide.
Ginnelly soon followed off the bench, with the two wingers both breaking free and crossing for Boyce but resolute defending kept the striker out.
Irving was running things in midfield and chipped a beautiful pass through to Walker, but his shot was dragged wide.
With a few minutes left you thought it was game over when Lucas Williamson was dismissed for a dangerous foul on Mackay-Steven, but the hosts then pulled one back.
Kevin Cawley nodded home after Ginnelly had lost the ball on the edge of the area, but Gino made up for it in stoppage time. Alloa keeper Parry went up for a free kick, but the ball was cleared to Ginnelly who flew past his man and ran the ball into an empty net to put a seal on the win as Hearts went seven points clear in the Scottish Championship.
Alloa: Parry, Williamson, Jamieson, Graham, Robertson, Hetherington, Grant, Cawley, Scougall (Buchanan, 67'), Murray (Brown, 63'), Thomson (Evans, 81'). Subs: Wright, Lynch, O'Donnell, Connolly, Brown.
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Berra, Walker, Roberts (Mackay-Steven, 46'), Halliday, Irving, Kingsley, Frear (Ginnelly, 65'), Halkett, Henderson (Boyce, 59'). Subs: Stewart, Haring, Naismith, Popescu.
Referee: Alan Muir