Hearts made it two Championship wins from two with a 1-0 victory at Arbroath this evening.
Supersub Craig Wighton was the hero thanks to a second-half match-winning strike, his fourth goal this season, which keeps the Jambos top of the league and unbeaten in five games across all competitions.
Robbie Neilson made two changes from the side that blew away Dundee on opening day. Andy Halliday came in for Andy Irving while Elliott Frear replaced the injured Jordan Roberts.
Despite dominating the opening stages, Hearts were dealt a cruel blow when Josh Ginnelly pulled up with a quad injury after only eight minutes. No longer able to continue, he exited the field of play to be replaced by Wighton.
Liam Boyce was first to work the goalkeeper, with Wighton teeing him up at the edge of the box however Gaston made a comfortable save.
The hosts proved a formidable force at the back, with the Jambos restricted to half chances. Jamie Walker saw a shot inside the box blocked before Mihai Popescu headed well over from Walker’s corner.
The half’s best chances, however, fell to Arbroath. Kris Doolan won possession inside the Hearts box and drilled on target but Craig Gordon beat the ball away with his legs.
Doolan was involved again soon after, taking the ball inside tbe box and setting up Swankie but he fired straight at Gordon.
The Hearts No.1 was at his best on the half-hour mark when Doolan turned and hit a snapshot but Gordon got down to his right to brilliantly push the ball around the post.
The Jam Tarts ramped it up in the second half as they continued to see most of the ball. Boyce played in Wighton but Gaston was quick off his line to make a good block.
Moments later, Frear hit a spectacular curling shot from distance that looked destined for the top corner, only for the ball to swerve and narrowly miss the target.
Walker would then be denied from close range by Gaston before Boyce shanked an effort wide at the back door.
With 20 minutes remaining the deadlock was broken. Michael Smith’s ball into the box was latched onto by Wighton, and with Gaston rushing out the striker beautifully lobbed him, sending the ball into the back of the net.
It was nearly 2-0 eight minutes later. Boyce had a shot blocked at the edge of the box but showed quick feet to keep hold of the rebound and create space to shoot, but his effort smacked off Gaston’s right-hand post on its way out.
Arbroath threw everything at the Hearts defence in the closing stages and saw a last-gasp shot sail over the bar as the Jambos clinched a deserved three points and extended their unbeaten run.
Arbroath: Gaston, Thomson, Hamilton, Little, Craigen, Ruth, McKenna, Swankie, Hilson, Doolan, Virtanen. Subs: Gold, Linn, Donnelly, Whatley, Gallacher.
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Walker (Haring, 78’), Lee, Boyce, Halliday, Kingsley, Frear (White, 61’), Halkett, Popescu, Ginnelly (Wighton, 8’). Subs: Stewart, Naismith, Irving, Brandon.