Tuesday 27 December 2016, 19.45, Tynecastle Park
The Scottish Premiership clash between Hearts and Kilmarnock.
With the Lowland League and Junior leagues taking a break over the festive period, the late December football continued with a trip to Tynecastle.
It’s a quick viewing of Hearts again after the trip to Dens Park on 23 December, with new manager Ian Cathro still looking for his first win.
It’s a first look at Kilmarnock this season.
The club’s formation goes back as far as 1869, when some local cricketers, looking for something to occupy them outside of the cricket season, formed a football club. The original team played a game more similar to rugby (I shall make no comparisons to the current squad.)
They quickly decided that association football would suit them better and were one of the eight founder members of the Scottish Football Association in 1873. Their 2-0 defeat by the now defunct Renton in the Scottish Cup of 1873 is considered to be the first ever match played in the competition.
They joined the Scottish League in 1895 and won the Scottish Cup in 1920 and 1929.
The 1960s was their most consistently good decade with four runners-up positions in five years before their one and only top league title came in 1965 when they pipped Hearts on goal average on the final day.
The 1980s saw relegation to the Second Division, but they have now been back in the top flight since 1993. A third Scottish Cup win in 1997 being the highlight of that decade.
Kilmarnock have competed in all three of the major European competitions, which included a semi-final in the 1967 Fairs Cup.
Lee Clark took over as manager in February 2016 and a raft of new players have joined the club since then. Killie have Dapo Kayode, Miles Addison, Jonathan Burn, Scott Boyd, and Greg Kiltie all sidelined.
Their 1-0 loss at home to St Johnstone the previous Friday made it four games without a win. They’d only won one out of their last eight and were sitting in 8th place.
Ian Cathro made two changes to the Hearts team that lost at Dens Park four days before. Rherras replaced Liam Smith while Prince Buaben came in for the injured Don Cowie. Sam Nicholson was still missing with a knee injury.
There were 16,696 in attendance.
Hearts were quick to take the initiative and saw most of the ball in the early stages, although Boyd had the game’s first chance in 4 minutes. A long ball saw the striker running in on goal but Hamilton in the Hearts goal was out quickly only to see his touch come off Boyd and spin towards the Hearts goal. Rossi had got back though to clear.
That scare was quickly forgotten three minutes later when a Hearts corner was cleared to the edge of the box where Paterson hit an excellent half volley into the bottom corner to give the home side the lead.
Paterson’s night was ruined, however, in 12 minutes when he thought Hearts should have had a free kick as Kilmarnock came away with the ball. He made a petulant late challenge on Tyson on the touchline and came off far worse, having to be stretchered off.
Once the game restarted and Paterson replaced, Kilmarnock almost got back on level terms when a free kick played into the Hearts box found Coulibaly unmarked, but he glanced his header wide of goal.
Hearts were soon back in the ascendency and Djoum had a half chance in the Killie box in 16 minutes, but his shot was blocked.
They came closer to extending their lead in 19 minutes. Walker’s corner was flicked goalwards by Johnsen and it beat MacDonald, but Smith cleared off the line.
Kilmarnock were still in the game though and following a free kick, the ball came to Coulibaly in the Hearts box in 21 minutes, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
Back up the other end in 27 minutes, Johnsen got his head on the end of a Hearts free kick but headed wide of goal.
Boyle picked up the game’s first booking for fouling Johnsen in 30 minutes and Walker’s free kick was held by MacDonald in the Killie goal.
Smith had a shot at the Hearts goal from distance in 41 minutes, but it was a comfortable save for Hamilton.
With three minutes to half time, Heart’s Smith broke down the right and cut back to send a left footed cross into the box. Djoum had made a late run into the box and cleverly flicked the ball past MacDonald for Hearts’ second.
The goal so close to half time had given Killie an uphill task for the second half.
Hearts started the second half on the front foot and in 47 minutes, Walker let the ball run across him at the edge of the box before turning to shoot, but it went wide of the target.
Killie’s task became mountainous just three minutes into the second half. A corner came to Buaben at the edge of the box and his well struck effort was parried by MacDonald, but Walker was onto it in a flash and sent a low shot into the net to make it 3-0.
Killie striker Kris Boyd, who had been pretty disparaging about Hearts in the media, and in particular about boss Cathro’s reported extensive use of portable computers had been getting abuse from the home fans throughout, and the third goal made that stick reach a crescendo. “You’re getting fucked by a laptop” sang the jubilant Jambos.
The fans mood was further enhanced when Boyd was substituted in 57 minutes.
Walker won Hearts a free kick in 60 minutes and took it himself. Djoum’s diving header from it was pushed away by MacDonald.
In 63 minutes, Johnsen’s flick on saw Walker charging onto the ball in the Killie box. He took it round MacDonald, but just as he was about to roll the ball into the empty net, Wilson appeared from nowhere to slide the ball behind. The resultant corner saw Johnsen’s header flash wide of the post.
Buaben had to be replaced in 65 minutes as Hearts lost their second player through injury.
With 70 minutes gone, Boyle was terribly short with a pass back and Walker had read the situation. He raced onto the ball and slipped the ball past MacDonald and into the net to make it four.
Boyle was taken off soon after and I expect he avoided his manager’s gaze as he left the field.
Webb entered the referee’s book in 73 minutes for bringing down Djoum.
Kitchen was next to try and get in on the act for the home side, playing a one-two with Djoum in 76 minutes before seeing his low shot saved by MacDonald.
Hearts were playing with a lot of confidence now. So much so that even Nowak got himself forward in 83 minutes. He controlled the ball well and saw his curling effort come back off the post.
Nowak was involved again in 85 minutes, getting his head to Muirhead’s corner which Coulibaly cleared off the line to prevent Hearts getting a fifth.
In a rare foray forward for Kilmarnock, Coulibaly shot at the Hearts goal in 86 minutes, but it was wide.
Muirhead had two shots at the Killie goal in the next couple of minutes, but both were off target.
In injury time, Hearts sub Zanatta was brought down by Dicker in the box for a penalty. With Walker off, he managed to win the argument on who would take it, only to see MacDonald make a great save.
A comfortable win for Hearts, which could have been much worse for Kilmarnock but for MacDonald, the woodwork and some goal line clearances. Nowak, in his holding midfield role dropping back into defence when required, played well, as did Walker. It was hard to pick anyone out for Killie, although Coulibaly looked decent, but was starved of service.
Paterson would be out for many months with the injury he picked up. A massive blow for Paterson and for Hearts. Although it seemed likely he would be moving on in January, he has become a big player for Hearts and with his contract running out in the summer, they could lose out on a fee. With rumours of English Premier League clubs preparing a bid, the player may have missed out on a dream move.
Full Time: Hearts 4 Kilmarnock 0
Hearts: 1 Jack Hamilton, 2 Callum Paterson (Smith 15), 14 John Souttar, 4 Igor Rossi, 3 Faycal Rherras, 10 Arnoud Sutchuin-Djoum, 6 Perry Kitchen, 19 Krsitian Nowak, 8 Prince Buaben (Muirhead 65), 7 Jamie Walker (Zanatta 77), 20 Bjorn Johnsen. Subs: 5 Alim Ozturk, 13 Viktor Noring, 18 Conor Sammon, 23 Robbie Muirhead, 24 Liam Smith, 26 Dario Zanatta, 32 Tony Watt.
Kilmarnock: 1 Jamie MacDonald, 24 Greg Taylor, 36 Ian Wilson, 5 Will Boyle (Webb 72), 3 Steven Smith, 18 Charlee Adams, 8 Gary Dicker, 6 Martin Smith (Jones 57), 19 Souleymane Coulibaly, 12 Nathan Tyson, 9 Kris Boyd (Hawkshaw 57). Subs: 2 Josh Webb, 11 Jordan Jones, 20 Flo Bojaj, 21 Adam Frizzell, 31 Devlin Mackay, 33 Dean Hawkshaw, 44 Innes Cameron
Referee: Craig Thomson