EGGERT JONSSON’S first goal of the season ensured a vital victory for Hearts against Inverness to end a four-game winless streak for Paulo Sergio’s side. Rudi Skacel opened the scoring early in the second half before Ross Tokely’s headed equaliser. However, Jonsson was in place to convert David Templeton’s cross 15 minutes from full-time and secure three points.
Scorers: Hearts - Skacel 46, Jonsson 75. Inverness - Tokely 58.
Inverness remain bottom of the SPL but delivered a plucky performance throughout a game which was bereft of any real quality passing. Templeton was one of few bright sparks with a display that ranks amongst his best of the campaign so far. He received a warm ovation in stoppage time when substituted.
With a vicious swirling wind overhead, this match was never likely to witness attractive free-flowing football. Mud and guts were indeed the order of the day with high balls aplenty. It was a perfect afternoon for shots from distance due to the conditions, hence Andrew Shinnie’s 25-yard drive which angled narrowly wide of Marian Kello’s goal during the opening exchanges.
The weather might have contributed to the latest Marius Zaliukas aberration after 20 minutes. The Lithuanian kicked thin air whilst attempting to clear Jamie Hamill’s bouncing throw-in, however he was rescued when Kello blocked Gregory Tade as the Frenchman homed in on goal unopposed.
Ryan Esson held comfortably from Ryan Stevenson and Hearts supporters in the Wheatfield Stand then appealed vehemently for a penalty when Templeton fell to the ground following a 32nd-minute challenge from Josh Meekings. Their howls were dismissed by referee Craig Thomson but the winger at that juncture was causing untold trouble down the left flank. Meekings, in truth, struggled to contain him.
Stevenson was replaced by Adrian Mrowiec during the interval and within seconds of the restart Skacel had broken the deadlock. With an exquisite touch to control John Sutton’s headed flick, the Czech then dispatched a powerful drive beyond Esson with his left foot. It was Hearts’ first goal in over 400 minutes of football and the scorer was promptly booked for over-celebrating.
The advantage lasted just 12 minutes until the visitors exploited a set-piece to prise an equaliser. Jonny Hayes curled a right-sided free-kick deep into home territory and Tokely met the ball on the run to glance it into the net from around six yards.
Inverness might have scored a second on 68 minutes when Kello parried Andrew Shinnie’s attempt, only for Hayes to send the rebound into the Roseburn Stand. The game was evenly poised at that stage, with the next goal crucial to the final outcome.
Hearts got it through Jonsson and breathed a considerable sigh of relief. After a short corner with Hamill, Templeton unleashed a driven left-footed cross which the Icelander met for a close-range headed finish. That was to be the decisive act of the day, securing a first win in five attempts for the Edinburgh club.
Hearts (4-1-4-1): Kello; Hamill, Webster, Zaliukas, McGowan; Jonsson; Skacel, Stevenson (Mrowiec 46), Obua, Templeton (Robinson 90); Sutton (Taouil 80). Subs: MacDonald, Novikovas, G Smith, S Elliott.
Inverness CT (4-5-1): Esson; Meekings (Proctor 73), Tokely, Hogg, Gillet; Hayes, Tansey, Davis, A Shinnie (Ross 83), Foran; Tade (Sutherland 90). Subs: Tuffey, Chippendale, Cox, G Shinnie.
Referee: Craig Thomson.