Dundee Utd 1-0 Hearts

By Annie McGuireBBC Sport Scotland

Dundee United edged closer to the top six after a valuable home win against Hearts at Tannadice.

A stunning headed goal from Scott Robertson midway through the first half was enough to secure manager Peter Houston's fourth win of the season.

Hearts were dogged in their attempts to level the scoring, despite news of a proposed .

Rudi Skacel and Ryan McGowan came closest for the visitors but endured a frustrating afternoon.

Serving the first of his five-match touchline ban, manager Paulo Sergio had recalled striker John Sutton to his starting line up - the Englishman's first start since 13 August, and Hearts were in more attacking mood than their 4-5-1 formation suggested, with Rudi Skacel, David Templeton and Ryan Stevenson offering support.

And it was Templeton who came closest to opening the scoring, picking up the ball on the edge of the United box and sending his diagonal strike a foot wide of Dusan Pernis's far post.

United - who handed a debut to former Hearts full-back Robbie Neilson - struggled to create similar opportunites in the opening exchanges, relying on a flash of brilliance in the 24th minute to open the scoring.

Jon Daly peeled off his marker wide on the right and sent in a magnificent curling cross which evaded Andy Webster to find Robertson's diving header, the 26-year-old delivering a perfect finish from 12 yards out to leave Marion Kello helpless in goal.

The home side were almost caught cold in the aftermath of the goal though, with Skacel finding the back of the net for Hearts after a driving run by the lively Templeton, only for the Czech to be ruled offside by the far-side linesman.

Hearts continued to apply pressure with Skacel dangerous on the counter attack, his individual effort palmed away by Pernis with 40 minutes gone.

The latter stages of the half were marred by a series of clumsy challenges which saw referee Willie Collum brandish three yellow cards.

Paul Dixon was first in the book after catching Skacel with a high boot, before Jamie Hamill blocked the pacy run of Gary Mackay-Steven down the left channel to leave the United youngster floored.

Neilson, who looked off the pace on his return to the Scottish Premier League, completed the hat-trick of bookings and could have no complaints after being penalised for a late challenge on Stevenson.

There was more of the same after the restart; Garry Kenneth the offender this time as he ended the run of Skacel on the edge of the box in a dangerous-looking position.

The potency of the resulting free-kick was wasted on the Czech though, who stood head-in-hands after sending the ball high over the bar.

Undeterred, Skacel looked hungry to level the score and continued to trouble the United defence, prompting Sergio to introduce support in the former of Mehdi Taouil who replaced Adrian Mrowiec on the hour-mark.

By contrast chances were at a premium for Dundee United, but with 67 minutes gone they too had the ball in the net only to be over-ruled by an offside decision.

The lively Mackay-Steven forced a palmed save from Kello with a 10-yard shot, with Daly pouncing on the rebound unaware of his offside position.

With Hearts aggrieved to have dominated possession and struggled in front of goal, Ryan McGowan produced a long-range attempt with just over 10 minutes remaining, but Pernis was equal to the driven shot.

Cutting an aggrivated figure in the stand, the Hearts manager went for broke and introduced Steven Elliot and Arvydas Novikovas to replace Sutton and Hamill but, despite countless corners, the visitors could not convert their chances on a frustrating afternoon for the troubled club.

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