Hearts grabbed a massive three points at Palmerston Park today after beating Queen of the South 2-1.
Billy King cancelled out Dan Carmichael’s opening goal and then piled on the pressure, which paid off with seven minutes remaining thanks to Genero Zeefuik’s deflected effort.
Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that beat Livingston 1-0 a week previous; in came Morgaro Gomis and King, with Kenny Anderson and James Keatings dropping to the bench.
For all the Jambos’ possession in the opening five minutes, it was the hosts who got the first shot in on goal. Paul Burns was fed 25 yards out and struck a sweet shot, but straight at Neil Alexander who gathered easily.
Hearts looked dangerous going forward, with Jamie Walker pinging some cracking long-range passes about, but twice balls into the box were missed by Prince Buaben.
The home side opened the scoring after 23 minutes. Lewis Kidd showed great skill on the right to get into the Hearts box and whip over a cross, which found the unmarked Carmichael at the back door and he had the simplest of jobs to tap into an empty net.
It was almost 2-0 only four minutes later. After a Hearts corner was defended, Gomis was caught in possession on the halfway line by Micheal Paton, who was then presented with a clean run at goal. Adam Eckersley did well to track back and force Paton slightly wide, and his tame shot from the edge of the box was smothered by Alexander.
The Jambos had threatened down the right and that was where the equalising goal came from after 31 minutes. Callum Paterson’s cross into the box was met first-time by King, and his half-volley flew past Zander Clark and into the top corner of the net.
Genero Zeefuik was a beacon for balls forward, doing his usual best to hold them up. In the 39th minute he dispossessed his man and cut into the box, but with no options he shot low and into the arms of Clark.
Moments later, Walker and Pallardo’s delightful one-two saw the former clear in the box, but after dodging a last-ditch challenge the No. 7 could only cut it back into a blue shirt and out for a corner.
Substitute Kenny Anderson found himself with a half chance ten minutes into the second-half, when he latched onto Adam Eckersley’s ball to the front door. However, the Dutchman was quickly closed down and his effort was blocked.
Hearts were enjoying the lion’s share of possession, with Walker and King heavily involved. Walker teed-up Gomis outside the box but the midfielder’s first-time effort was saved by Clark.
Walker again turned provider, this time setting up Zeefuik and although the striker did well to turn his man at the edge of the box, he couldn’t angle his subsequent shot on target.
When it looked like a share of the spoils was on the cards, Hearts made the breakthrough. Eckersley’s ball into the box was knocked goalwards by Zeefuik, and with the aid of a deflection, spun past Clark and into the back of the net.
A huge three points for the Jambos, who find themselves 20 points clear of second-placed Hibs.
Queen of the South: Clark, Dowie, Durnan, Higgins, Holt, Burns, Millar (McKenna, 76'), Kidd, Carmichael, Paton (Pickard, 87') Lyle (Russell, 80'). Subs: Atkinson, Hooper, Mitchell, Slattery.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Wilson, Ozturk, Gomis, Walker, King (McKay, 90'), Pallardo, Buaben (Anderson, 46'), Zeefuik (Sow, 85'), Eckersley. Subs: Hamilton, El Hassnaoui, Nicholson, Keatings.
Referee: Euan Anderson
Top man: Billy King