Kilmarnock 0-1 Hearts
John Sutton's early tap-in gave Hearts a narrow but deserved win over Kilmarnock, who rallied late on at Rugby Park.
Michael Ngoo provided Sutton an easy finish as the hosts started slowly.
Killie goalkeeper Cammy Bell saved Ryan Stevenson's second-half penalty after Mo Sissoko felled Jamie Walker.
Kris Boyd twice nearly rescued a point for the home side but headed over one chance before Jamie MacDonald smothered another.
Hearts, who now move level on points with Hibs in the Scottish Premier League, will have encouraged their support with this energetic and forward-thinking performance.
Kenny Shiels, meanwhile, will have to ensure his Kilmarnock charges get their teeth into future games quicker than they did here.
Killie are actively trying to attract as many fans as they possibly can to the closing matches of this campaign, but their start to this encounter will not have acted as a catalyst to that process.
It seemed all too easy for Hearts' tall forward Ngoo to collect Stevenson's long-ball and calmly cut inside Killie's Sissoko to square for Sutton's simple eighth goal of the season.
The home side's shakiness continued as defender Ryan O'Leary and Rangers-bound goalkeeper Bell combined to make a hash of a clearance, then Sutton blasted over after another Ngoo set-up.
Killie's two new Nigerian recruits; Gabriel Reuben and Papa Idris, watched on in the stands as their countryman Rabiu Ibrahim scurried around in vain trying to create openings for Paul Heffernan and Boyd up top.
A glanced header wide by Hearts midfielder Walker was followed by something for the Rugby Park home crowd to finally get an inch off their seats about. Killie's Dutch left-back did well to find Heffernan in the box, but a sprawling Andy Webster blocked the Irish striker's effort.
In addition to impressive link-up from Sutton and Ngoo, Walker and Jason Holt were a regular scourge to Shiels' team.
James Fowler's deflected effort just before half-time was not enough to prevent booing from Kilmarnock fans as the teams left the pitch to take stock.
Two half-time substitutions perhaps reflected Shiels' unhappiness, while Dale Carrick had an early sitter after entering the fray for the visitors.
Home fans starved of chances to applaud dished out generous loud claps when Chris Johnston's penetrating run ended with a shot on target, albeit comfortably gathered by MacDonald.
Walker picked up where he left off for Hearts, surging into the box to draw a clumsy foul from Sissoko and referee Calum Murray pointed to the spot. However, Bell saved Stevenson's kick, and Holt's follow-up, expertly.
And Hearts should have had another penalty almost immediately, O'Leary the next to misjudge how to thwart Walker, but this time nothing was given.
With Hearts desperate to close-out the match, superb wing-play on the left by sub Arvydas Novikovas led to Dale Carrick thumping narrowly wide.
Despite dominating, the final say almost went to Kilmarnock.
Johnston's cross was headed over by Boyd, who then forced MacDonald into a crucial close-range save minutes later.
And there was also time for Mark O'Hara to drill a foot wide as the home side finished how they wish they had begun.
- 01 Bell
- 02 Tesselaar (Perez - 46' )
- 05 O'Leary (Gross - 70' )
- 25 Barbour Booked
- 88 Sissoko
- 04 Fowler Booked
- 08 Clingan
- 19 Ibrahim (Johnston - 46' )
- 38 O'Hara
- 11 Boyd
- 14 Heffernan
- 53 Jaakkola
- 03 Hay
- 36 Slater
- 09 Gross
- 12 Sheridan
- 15 Perez
- 30 Johnston
- 01 MacDonald
- 02 Hamill
- 04 Wilson
- 06 Webster
- 29 McHattie
- 05 Barr (McGowan - 89' )
- 07 Stevenson
- 14 Walker (Novikovas - 75' )
- 15 Holt
- 09 Sutton
- 21 Ngoo (Carrick - 49' )
- 13 Ridgers
- 28 McKay
- 10 Taouil
- 19 McGowan
- 17 Smith
- 18 Novikovas
- 37 Carrick
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee ends the match.90:00 +1:37
Jamie MacDonald takes the direct free kick.90:00 +1:37 Booking
Booking The referee cautions James Fowler for dissent.90:00 +1:12
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Ryan Stevenson by Borja Perez.90:00 +0:16
Effort from deep inside the area by Mark O'Hara misses to the left of the goal.89:46
Ryan Stevenson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul Heffernan. Direct free kick taken by Borja Perez.87:40 Substitution
Substitution Darren Barr leaves the field to be replaced by Dylan McGowan.87:40
Kris Boyd takes a shot. Save by Jamie MacDonald. Corner taken by William Gros, Jamie Hamill manages to make a clearance.87:01
Borja Perez fouled by Dale Carrick, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Borja Perez.86:25
Arvydas Novikovas is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Mohamadou Sissoko takes the indirect free kick.84:34
Foul by Danny Wilson on Kris Boyd, free kick awarded. Sammy Clingan has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.82:58
Unfair challenge on Chris Johnston by Jamie Hamill results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Borja Perez.82:35
Dale Carrick gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Johnston. Direct free kick taken by Sammy Clingan.81:51
Close range headed effort by Kris Boyd clears the crossbar.79:17
Dale Carrick produces a right-footed shot from close range that goes over the bar.75:53
Ryan Stevenson challenges William Gros unfairly and gives away a free kick. Borja Perez takes the free kick.75:13
James Fowler gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Arvydas Novikovas. Kevin McHattie takes the free kick.74:17 Substitution
Substitution Arvydas Novikovas comes on in place of Jamie Walker.70:52
The official flags William Gros offside. Jamie MacDonald takes the indirect free kick.70:34
Foul by Kevin McHattie on Paul Heffernan, free kick awarded. James Fowler takes the free kick.
Substitution William Gros is brought on as a substitute for Ryan O'Leary.68:26
Kevin McHattie takes the direct free kick.68:26 Booking
Booking Ross Barbour shown a yellow card.68:21
Foul by Ross Barbour on Jason Holt, free kick awarded.67:56
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Borja Perez, clearance made by Andy Webster.67:30
John Sutton challenges Ross Barbour unfairly and gives away a free kick. Ryan O'Leary restarts play with the free kick.67:03
Shot from just outside the box by Mark O'Hara misses to the right of the target.66:38
Dale Carrick gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Chris Johnston. Direct free kick taken by Sammy Clingan.62:53
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kris Boyd on Jamie Walker. Kevin McHattie takes the free kick.62:24
The assistant referee signals for offside against Mark O'Hara. Free kick taken by Kevin McHattie.61:54
Foul by Jamie Walker on Ross Barbour, free kick awarded. Ross Barbour takes the free kick.61:25
Shot from close in by Jason Holt misses to the left of the target.61:25 Penalty
Penalty taken by Ryan Stevenson is saved by Cameron Bell. Kilmarnock 0-1 Hearts.60:15
Unfair challenge on Jamie Walker by Mohamadou Sissoko results in a Penalty.59:00
Jamie Walker has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.56:30
Ryan Stevenson takes a shot from deep inside the box clearing the bar.54:11
Chris Johnston takes a shot. Jamie MacDonald makes a comfortable save.52:18
Dale Carrick takes a shot. Cameron Bell makes a comfortable save.50:08
Dale Carrick has an effort at goal from outside the area which goes wide right of the goal.48:48 Substitution
Substitution Michael Ngoo leaves the field to be replaced by Dale Carrick.47:08
James Fowler has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand post.45:14
Michael Ngoo concedes a free kick for a foul on Mark O'Hara. Cameron Bell restarts play with the free kick.45:01
The referee gets the second half underway.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Chris Johnston joins the action as a substitute, replacing Rabiu Ibrahim.45:01 Substitution
Substitution Borja Perez is brought on as a substitute for Jeroen Tesselaar.45:00 +0:03 Half time
Half Time The match has reached half-time.42:55
Corner taken by Rabiu Ibrahim played to the near post, Darren Barr makes a clearance.42:30
James Fowler takes a shot. Darren Barr gets a block in.41:12
Unfair challenge on Rabiu Ibrahim by Darren Barr results in a free kick. Sammy Clingan takes the direct free kick.36:03
Jeroen Tesselaar concedes a free kick for a foul on Jason Holt. Jamie Hamill takes the direct free kick.35:33
Jamie Walker takes a shot. Save made by Cameron Bell.34:30
Jamie Walker produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.33:00
Kevin McHattie gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mark O'Hara. Free kick taken by Sammy Clingan.30:59
Darren Barr fouled by James Fowler, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Danny Wilson.30:45
The assistant referee flags for offside against Kris Boyd. Indirect free kick taken by Danny Wilson.27:03
Rabiu Ibrahim concedes a free kick for a foul on Jason Holt. Free kick taken by Kevin McHattie.25:46
Headed effort from inside the area by Jeroen Tesselaar misses to the left of the goal.24:39
Outswinging corner taken by Sammy Clingan from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Darren Barr.23:58
Kris Boyd challenges Kevin McHattie unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Danny Wilson.22:28
Jamie Walker produces a headed effort from deep inside the six-yard box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.21:37
Effort on goal by John Sutton from inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar.18:29
The referee blows for offside. Jamie MacDonald takes the indirect free kick.13:22
The referee blows for offside. Jamie Hamill takes the indirect free kick.10:39
Free kick awarded for a foul by Mohamadou Sissoko on Michael Ngoo. Jamie Hamill takes the direct free kick.10:12
The official flags Michael Ngoo offside. Indirect free kick taken by Cameron Bell.6:55
Inswinging corner taken by Sammy Clingan from the left by-line.3:59
Assist on the goal came from Michael Ngoo.3:59 Goal scored
Goal! - John Sutton - Kilmarnock 0 - 1 Hearts John Sutton grabs a goal from inside the six-yard box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Kilmarnock 0-1 Hearts.2:52
Darren Barr concedes a free kick for a foul on Rabiu Ibrahim. Direct free kick taken by Sammy Clingan.2:14
Kris Boyd is caught offside. Jamie MacDonald takes the free kick.1:14
Jamie Walker has an effort at goal from outside the area missing to the wide right of the target.0:00
The game gets underway.
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