By Blair McNally
A dominant Hearts display saw them climb into second spot after a comfortable 3-0 win on a sun-lit Tynecastle Park.
Goals from Michael Smith, Liam Boyce, and Alex Cochrane ensured all three points for the Jam Tarts as they leapfrogged Edinburgh rivals Hibernian.
The visitors started the brighter of the pair, forcing the ball down the wings. The pick of the crosses missing last Sunday’s hero, Andrew Shinnie, by a matter of centimetres, with the goal at his mercy.
To the home fans’ delight, it was the hosts who took the lead in the 25th minute from a moment of magic. With a drop of the shoulder, Barry Mackay turned, finding acres of space. He switched to Ben Woodburn who calmly played it into the path of Michael Smith who finished emphatically, curling neatly into the far side.
It was nearly 2-0 just minutes after. Ben Woodburn’s optimistic free-kick proved too much for the gloves of Max Stryek who fumbled before recovering just inches from his goal line.
In the 33rd minute, the home side’s lead was deservedly doubled. Quick passages of play within the opposition box led to the trailing leg of Ben Williamson giving referee Gavin Duncan no option but to point to the spot.
Stepping up to the spot, Liam Boyce dispatched with ease sending Stryek the wrong way for his ninth goal of the season.
Stryek was the saviour in the second half, making two vital saves to keep the Lions in with a chance. The first coming just five minutes after halftime. Stephen Kingsley’s goalbound free-kick was met by the stretching fingertips of the Pole.
In the 64th minute, it was game over as Alex Cochrane grabbed his first goal for the club. Reaching the touchline, Barrie McKay drilled across the face of goal leaving the Brighton loanee to tap into an empty net.
It was a straight and narrow road for the Jam tarts from then on, seeing out the game for a comfortable victory.
Next up for the Jambos, it’s a second consecutive home tie as they play host to Motherwell next Saturday. Livingston return to Almondvale with a crucial home tie against 10th placed St Mirren.
Here are three things we learned as Hearts eased past Livingston:
Jambos shine into Second
Today’s impressive performance from Robbie Neilson’s men deserved no less than a standing ovation at the end. A joy to watch all over the park, the Jambos will be looking to kick on from today’s win over a team victorious against Celtic only a week ago.
Lions roar weakens
Today’s performance was one to forget for Livingston as they were outshone by a Hearts side on their A-game. David Martindale will be eager to rewrite the wrongs from today’s poor showing and get back to the training pitch as they face 10th placed St Mirren next Saturday.
McKay back to business
This afternoon re-ignited the plaudit winning performances of McKay’s Rangers days. The winger caused the Lions backline problems all afternoon, eventually setting up Cochrane’s goal to seal the victory in the second half. Energy like this in the attacking third could be vital this season as the Jambos look to further last season’s campaign.
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