Tangerines leave too much to do
Sun 23rd Dec 4.30pm
A brace of first-half goals from Ryan Stevenson was enough to consign Dundee United to defeat in their weekend game against Hearts, despite a reply from Keith Watson following the break.
Stevenson opened the scoring from close-range on the quarter-hour and then converted a penalty after a foul by Willo Flood sixteen minutes later.
Defender Watson reduced the deficit early in the second period but it wasn't enough to prevent the visitors from being overtaken by their latest opponents in the table.
There was an early costly mistake when Brian McLean allowed a ball to run loose when attempting to guide it back to goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak and Stevenson snapped up the opportunity for his first goal.
McLean soon turned an effort against an upright from a Barry Douglas cross after Jamie MacDonald had denied Jon Daly at the other end - until Stevenson added his second from the spot when Dylan McGowan was pulled back by Flood.
The Tangerines certainly needed the next goal and after Johnny Russell had already crashed a shot over, they attacked strongly following the change of ends.
The visitors were rewarded as Watson smartly finished on the turn on 57 minutes after a deflected shot from ex-Hearts man Rudi Skacel, who also struck another over before next being tripped on the edge of the area.
But Douglas was unable to avoid the defensive wall from the subsequent free-kick while former United loanee Andy Webster and substitute Callum Paterson each tested Cierzniak.
Back came the visitors and Milos Lacny and Watson both saw later chances until Russell hoisted another opportunity over during added time.
Hearts: MacDonald, McGowan, Barr, Webster, Zaliukas, McHattie, Stevenson, Driver (Novikovas 83), McGowan (Taouil 73), Sutton, Smith (Paterson 76)
subs (unused): Enckelman, Holt, Robinson, Carrick
Goals: Stevenson (15, 31 pen)
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Watson, McLean, Gunning, Douglas, Flood, Rankin, Armstrong (Dow 86), Skacel (Lacny 77), Russell, Daly
subs (unused): Banks, Ryan, Millar, Petrie, Gardyne
Goals: Watson (57)
Ref: C. Thomson