Hearts notched a fine 4-0 away win in today's SPFL Championship encounter with Raith Rovers at Stark's Park.
James Keatings was the hero, the ex-Celtic striker notching a superb hat-trick in his first league start for the club to give the Jambos a well deserved win as Hearts earned their third league win in a row.
The Hearts line-up had a more familiar look to it, as Robbie Neilson made nine changes from the side that lost at Livingston in the Petrofac Training Cup, although just the one enforced change from the side that beat Hibs last weekend, as James Keatings replaced the suspended Osman Sow.
Despite a bright start from the Rovers, with a couple of corners and some high balls causing trouble, Hearts took the lead on 12 minutes. Billy King followed a ball into the box and rounded Kevin Cuthbert. The winger was unselfish and squared to Sam Nicholson, who back heeled the ball towards goal.
Although the ball was somehow kept off the line, James Keatings came roaring in to hammer the ball home and net his first goal for Hearts, a fine opportunistic goal from the striker, who celebrated with a knee slide in the damp Stark's Park turf.
Hearts continued to press, and nearly doubled their lead. First, Kevin McHattie fired the ball across the face of goal with no takers, before Jason Holt broke into the Raith half. The former Rovers loanee took his time and hit a low effort from distance, that went just past the post.
The Jambos were not to be denied, however, and duly doubled their lead before the half-hour. King cut inside and his effort was blocked, Prince Buaben's follow-up effort was parried out by Cuthbert to Keatings, who got the ball onto his favoured left foot and placed the ball into the bottom corner.
The lively King continued to look a threat as the half drew to a close. A fast-flowing counter attack and neat interplay between the winger and Keatings saw the wide-man break into the box and hit a low goal-bound effort that was saved by the legs of Ross Perry.
After the interval, Keatings was in the hunt for more goals. The striker turned inside the area and drove a low effort at goal, but keeper Cuthbert held on to the ball well.
However, the summer signing from Hamilton was not to be denied. After a dazzling Sam Nicholson run was crudely ended, Keatings stepped up to take the free kick and battered the ball into the top corner from 25 yards out to complete a sensational hat-trick.
Raith fought hard to get back into the match, with long range efforts from Ryan Conroy and Lewis Vaughan causing Jack Hamilton some grief, although the keeper saved both set-pieces with relative ease.
Robbie Neilson made his full compliment of substitutions in the second half, and two of them combined for the fourth goal in injury time. Alistair Roy cut in from the right wing and, after he was well tackled, the ball broke to Gary Oliver who bulleted the ball into the bottom corner to put a gloss on the win.