Pars punished by on-song Hearts

Andy Webster headed home a first-half opener and Rudi Skacel

doubled the visitors’ advantage with 15 minutes remaining. Their

second successive league victory lifts Hearts to fourth place in

the Scottish Premier League. Dunfermline made a bright start and

Danny Grainger had to be alert to deal with a dangerous Joe Cardle

free-kick in the opening minutes. The first opportunity for the

visitors came after 11 minutes when David Templeton weaved into the

Dunfermline box and got a strong shot away only for Paul Gallagher

to deflect the ball round the post for a corner. Hearts’ Ian Black

limped off after 21 minutes and was replaced by former Kilmarnock

midfielder Mehdi Taouil. Taouil’s introduction seemed to breathe

life into Hearts and two minutes after coming on the Moroccan

produced an excellent delivery from the right which required Andy

Dowie to head clear under pressure from Templeton. A superb diving

stop from Gallacher denied Rudi Skacel with five minutes remaining

in the first half and the visitors grabbed the opener from the

resulting corner. Grainger’s delivery was not dealt with by the

home defence and Webster was able to head home from close range. On

43 minutes Paul Burns hauled down Taouil as he steamed through on

goal to earn the first yellow card of the game. Dunfermline showed

more attacking intent at the beginning of the second half but were

unable to put any pressure on Hearts keeper Marian Kello. The

visitors still looked the more likely to extend their advantage and

Gallagher was forced to make a vital interception from Grainger’s

cross. Two minutes later Ryan Stevenson was felled by John Potter

at the edge of the Dunfermline box. Jamie Hamill set up Grainger

from the resulting free-kick but his fizzing effort was well off

target. Stevenson passed up a gilt-edged chance just before the

hour-mark when he met Templeton’s cross but could only head into

the arms of Gallagher. Dunfermline manager Jim McIntyre introduced

Liam Buchanan in place of Joe Cardle after 61 minutes. Potter

forced Kello into his first save of the match after 69 minutes when

his dangerous cross almost caught the Czech stopper out at his far

post. The home side suddenly seemed to be building momentum and

full-back Paddy Boyle unleashed a sensational strike from 25 yards

out which went inches over the bar. Their hopes of a comeback were

dashed with 15 minutes remaining however as Hearts grabbed the

vital second goal. Boyle’s misplaced pass was intercepted by David

Templeton who drove through on goal and unleashed a stinging effort

which was well saved by Gallagher, unfortunately for the keeper

though Skacel was on hand to drill the rebound home – much to the

delight of the huge travelling support. Immediately after the goal

Dunfermline made a double substitution with Pat Clarke and Paul

Willis coming on in place of Andy Kirk and Ryan Thomson. Hearts

boss Paulo Sergio made some changes of his own in the closing

stages as he replaced Skacel and Stevenson with David Obua and John

Sutton. In injury-time Boyle missed a good opportunity to grab a

consolation goal for Dunfermline when he found space at the back

post but his tame effort was easily gathered by Kello.