Hearts dispatched Cowdenbeath with relative ease in the heart of Fife to extend their lead in the Scottish Championship to 12 points in Tuesday’s rearranged fixture at Central Park.
Strikes from forwards James Keatings and Callum Paterson earned the Jambos the three points as the 3,000 supporters from Edinburgh were rewarded for their dedication with a powerful and composed display on a difficult playing surface against motivated opposition.
“I thought it was quite a professional job this evening”, said Robbie Neilson. “We stuck to our game plan, which involved a change of formation. At 1-0, we were fairly dominant but you’re always slightly concerned about conceding a goal.
“Once we got the second goal, we saw the game out comfortably and in a professional manner. We decided to give ourselves a different focus with Callum playing at centre-forward.
“Central Park has a narrow pitch, which negates the wide areas so we decided to go direct, and thanks to Callum’s aerial threat, it worked for us tonight.
“I believe Callum is destined for the top of the game. He works ever so hard in training, and he’s desperate to do well. His goal showed what fantastic technique he has in his locker, so he should be very pleased with himself.”
Still, although given the perfect Christmas present with a sizeable lead at the summit of the league table, the head coach simply refused to look beyond his immediate line of sight, which was focused firmly on Saturday’s clash with basement side Livingston.
The West Lothian outfit remain the only side from the Championship to inflict defeat on the Jambos this season, after a 4-1 reverse at the Energy Assets Arena in August on Petrofac Training Cup duty.
“There’s still 19 games to go, which - if my maths are correct - means there are 57 points to play for. A 12-point lead can be whittled down quickly. We could have a bad run of form, we could stop scoring goals, anything could happen.
“We won’t allow our focus to drift beyond what’s directly in front of us”, continued Neilson. “The boys are in training tomorrow morning, and we continue to focus on winning games. We have a huge game with Livingston now, and we’re extremely keen to right the wrongs of the cup game we played there."