Hearts edged a highly competitive match today at Tynecastle Park, with a Jamie Walker goal winning all three points.
Walker stepped off the bench and scored a wonderful solo strike to break the deadlock with ten minutes left, while the Jam Tarts had Craig Gordon to thank for some outstanding goalkeeping.
Robbie Neilson made two changes from the side that beat Raith Rovers 4-0 on Tuesday evening, with the injured Josh Ginnelly and Walker dropping out, while skipper Steven Naismith and goalscorer Euan Henderson started.
The Pars nearly got off to a perfect start inside a minute when the ball broke to Declan McManus inside the area and his shot flew past Craig Gordon, but Michael Smith was on hand to clear off the line, before Gordon palmed away the rebound.
After quarter of an hour, Hearts had their first chance when a corner from Naismith was headed powerfully towards goal by Mihai Popescu, but it was matched by the save from Owain Fon-Williams. Chances were at a premium in the remainder of the first half, until just before the interval, Dunfermline thought they had the lead.
Fraser Murray hit the byline down the left wing and chipped a ball to the back post that was met by a bullet header from Ryan Dow, however, Gordon defied gravity to somehow tip it over the bar while falling into the net.
Into the second half, and Hearts took control of possession and the majority of the play. First, Naismith released Henderson down the left, with the winger cutting in and shooting as Liam Boyce danced his way into the box before the ball broke to Smith, whose shot flew just past the post.
The gaffer changed things up by bringing Armand Gnanduillet and Aidy White on at the hour mark, and the big striker nearly scored immediately when he met an Andy Irving free kick, but again Fon Williams denied him. Moments later, Gnanduillet shot past the post when Boyce cut back to him in the area.
With 15 minutes to go, another Irving free kick was met by Craig Halkett as frustration grew, and his header looped over the bar, but a few moments later, Hearts won the game in superb style.
Smith fed Walker on the edge of the area, he spun his marker beautifully with a drag back of the ball and unleashed a rocket into the far corner, with Boyce sliding in at the back post to make sure it crossed the line.
Dunfermline went straight on the attack, but Hearts continued to throw bodies in front of shots, with Iain Wilson meeting a corner that was deflected over the bar. Hearts were content to play on the break after that, and saw the game out comfortably with another clean sheet as they went 12 points clear at the top of the Scottish Championship.
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Boyce, Naismith (Walker, 74'), Halliday, Mackay-Steven (White, 59'), Irving, Kingsley, Halkett, Popescu, Henderson (Gnanduillet, 59'). Subs: Stewart, Haring, Berra, Frear.
Dunfermline: Fon Williams, Comrie, Watson, Murray (Banks, 68'), Edwards, Whittaker (McCann, 84'), Dow, Wilson, Mayo, Murray, McManus (O'Hara, 72'). Subs: MacDonald, Gill, McInroy, Todd.