Match Reports

Match Report: Hearts 3-1 Arbroath

29th December 2020

Hearts earned a comfortable victory over Arbroath after a three-goal glut in six minutes from skipper Steven Naismith.

The Jam Tarts were 3-0 up at the interval thanks to the captain’s hat-trick, and while Arbroath did grab a goal a couple of minutes into the second half, the result was never really in doubt.

There were three changes to the side that started Saturday’s victory over Ayr United, with Craig Wighton, Peter Haring and Naismith coming into the side for Elliott Frear, Jordan Roberts and Stephen Kingsley.

The match started at a slow tempo, without much in the way of chances until the 15th minute when Michael Smith found Liam Boyce at the edge of the area but he dragged a shot wide.

Hearts were dealt a blow after 21 minutes when Boyce, having already been down with a knock earlier, had to be replaced by Jamie Walker. However, it would be Walker who got Hearts on their way, after a lovely through ball from Haring found the substitute in the area, and his ball across goal was converted by Naismith.

Two minutes later, Hearts doubled their lead. Andy Halliday played a great pass down the line for Naismith, who cut the ball back to Walker but although his finish was scuffed, it broke to Olly Lee who played the ball back to Smith, whose shot was deflected away from goal and right onto the head of the grateful Naismith who nodded home.

And four minutes later, he completed his hat-trick. A corner was played to the edge of the box for Andy Irving, and his goalbound shot was blocked by a hand. The skipper stepped up and blasted the ball down the middle to add the third goal.

It should have been four just two minutes later. Naismith slid a pass down the line to Halliday, who chipped a ball to the back post but Craig Wighton nodded wide with the goal gaping as the half came to a close.

Two minutes into the break, Arbroath grabbed a lifeline. A loose ball that seemed to be rolling through to Craig Gordon was intercepted by Irving, and his touch bounced straight to Kris Doolan who steered the ball high into the top opposite corner.

The goal gave Arbroath a lift that they hadn’t seen coming, and they started to become braver in attack, without creating any real opportunities. This meant Hearts could play on the counter, and Wighton was given a golden chance to score but his shot was weak when he was played through on goal.

There would then be another injury-enforced substitution for Hearts, as Christophe Berra was substituted following a knock to the head, with Mihai Popescu coming into the middle of defence. After that, the game settled down without any more notable action to speak of as Hearts stretched their lead at the top of the Championship to five points.

Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Haring, Berra (Frear, 76'), Lee (Popescu, 79'), Boyce (Walker, 21'), Naismith, Wighton, Halliday, Irving, Halkett. Subs: Stewart, Roberts, Brandon, Henderson.

Arbroath: Gaston, Hamilton, Thomson, Little, O'Brien, Gold, Craigen (McKenna, 72'), Virtanen, Doolan, Donnelly (Stewart, 72'), Swankie (Linn, 51'). Subs: Gallacher, Ruth, Whatley.