By David Buick

Dunfermline made a big statement as they defeated Championship title favourites Hearts 2-1 at East End Park.

Dom Thomas was the star of the show as he scored and assisted Euan Murray in the second half, before Stephen Kingsley pulling one back for Hearts.

Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk - Betfred Cup

Thomas was the star. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Victory for the Pars will certainly be viewed as an upset by many, however, it is perhaps an indication that they may be the side closest to challenging Hearts for the title this season. Here are three things we learned.

Reality check for Hearts?

It has been widely accepted and acknowledged that Hearts have a squad littered with Premiership quality players, and as such, many have predicted they will win the Championship at a canter this season.

Having started with such an emphatic 6-2 win over Dundee on the opening night, you would have been forgiven for thinking that it was sign of things to come for Hearts.

Dunfermline vs Heart of Midlothian - Scottish Championship

Neilson’s men were stunned. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

However, defeat at East End Park is a clear indication that Hearts will not have it all their own way this season and that the idea of Hearts waltzing to the Championship title is very skewed. As well as tasting defeat, Hearts were outplayed by the Fifers for large parts and that will leave Robbie Neilson with some thinking to do in the coming days. 

Dunfermline’s flying start 

That’s nine games unbeaten with eight wins for the Pars this season as they move four points clear, albeit perhaps temporarily, at the top of the league. Stevie Crawford’s side have clearly improved on last season, with many tipping them to have a strong campaign this year.

Hearts were always going to be the toughest test for the Pars and Crawford will be delighted to see his side pass that test with flying colours. Not only will the result be pleasing for the Pars gaffer, but the performance also shows the improvements in this Dunfermline side.

Dunfermline vs Heart of Midlothian - Scottish Championship

The Pars are going strong. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

For large parts of the game the Fifers looked the better side, and having gone two goals ahead, could easily have extended that lead to three or four. Hearts did pile the pressure on towards the end, but the Dunfermline defence remained strong and disciplined in order to seal an impressive victory.

Hearts miss Ginnelly

Pacey winger Josh Ginnelly was missing through injury yet again for Hearts and his absence was certainly felt by Neilson’s side.

The new loan signing from Preston looked lively in his first few games for Hearts, in particular the game at home to Dundee and Hearts fans will feel he could have provided the spark they missed at East End Park.

Heart of Midlothian v Dundee - Scottish Championship

Ginnelly was a big miss. (Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Direct running, pace and an eye for goal, Ginnelly has real potential to be a somewhat talismanic figure for the Jam Tarts this season. In his absence, Hearts started with Elliot Frear and Craig Wighton in the wide areas and neither were able to leave their impact on the game.

Both widemen were substituted as Neilson tried to change things up in hope of salvaging a point, but despite the change, Hearts struggled to create enough on the wings which in turn stifled their creativity as a whole. 

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