on a glorious summer evening at Tynecastle, Gary McSwegan, who had scored a hat-trick against Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the final game of the previous season, repeated the feat
Although McSwegan left the ground with the match ball, it was Colin Cameron who was at the centre of the most electric moments for the Jambos, who moved into third place in the SPL. Jim Jefferies had made four changes from the side which edged out Queen of the South in the CIS Insurance Cup just a few days earlier, with Stephane Adam, Darren Jackson, Grant Murray and Thomas Flogel returning to the ranks and Gary Locke, Kevin James and Juanjo dropping to the bench. Murray was given the role of marking Eoin Jess, the only change that boss Ebbe Skovdahl made from the team which had overcome Livingston to give him his first victory at Aberdeen.
After 21 minutes, Cameron picked up possession outside the box and dragged a shot wide, and then four minutes later he ran on to an astute inside pass from McSwegan to strike a volley which was touched over by David Preece. The breakthrough eventually came in the dying minutes of the first half, and on the balance of play it deservedly fell to Hearts. Gary Naysmith, making one of his forceful runs down the left, pushed the ball inside to Cameron, who let fly from 25 yards. While the Aberdeen defence closed on the ball, the shot deflected off Adam and into the path of McSwegan, who sidefooted home. Aberdeen’s fragile confidence collapsed visibly.
Six minutes after the break the Aberdeen keeper again had no answer as another flowing Hearts move was given an emphatic finish by McSwegan. Cameron was again the instigator, picking the ball up and running at the Aberdeen defence before slipping a neat ball into McSwegan, who swiftly exchanged passes with Adam before driving home.
Darren Mackie forced Gilles Rousset into his first save of the match after 75 minutes, when the Frenchman raced out to claw away the young striker’s backward header after a loose defensive clearance.
When a Steve Fulton free-kick was nodded back into the danger zone by Paul Ritchie, McSwegan was allowed the time and space to half-volley home his third.