CALLUM PATERSON’S first goals in senior football helped Hearts end a miserable sequence of results at Tannadice as the Jam Tarts recorded a stunning victory over Dundee United.
Then deployed as a striker by manager John McGlynn, the 17-year-old scored twice which, added to Arvydas Novikovas’ raking 25-yarder, saw Hearts win for only the second time in ten attempts at the Tayside venue as they ended a run of five SPL games without a win.
Hearts’ greater reliance on youth had been cited as a possible Achilles’ heel for them, but, once again, teenager Paterson turned in a performance that ensured there was no way he could be considered a weak link. The workrate and commitment of the entire team laid the foundations for their first win over Dundee United in Tayside for more than three years but it was the finishing ability of the young forward which sealed matters. That and an under-par display by the home side.
Although the home side started strongly, two goals inside three minutes in the first half put the visitors in command of this match and well on their way to three vital SPL points. The outstanding Paterson then rolled the third into an open net in the second half.
After the previous week’s capitulation at St Mirren, this was a welcome triumph for Hearts boss John McGlynn, whose team moved up four places from ninth into the top half of the league table.
The game’s first serious chance arrived on 23 minutes when Radoslaw Cierzniak, the Dundee United goalkeeper, pushed away Scott Robinson’s curling attempt.
United then appealed in vain for a penalty when Willo Flood fell in a challenge with Ryan Stevenson inside the visitors’ penalty area.
Against the run of play, Hearts moved ahead. When Danny Grainger’s first-time ball into the penalty area was only partially cleared, Paterson returned it with interest with his left foot into the back of the net. Novikovas then doubled the advantage two minutes later with a swerving drive from around 25 yards which left Cierzniak rooted to the spot.
With Tannadice now silenced, the game was Hearts’ to lose. Jamie MacDonald was airborne to hold both Gavin Gunning’s header from Flood’s corner and Stuart Armstrong’s shot bound for the top corner. That maintained a clean sheet at the interval.
Gunning headed Ryan Dow’s corner against the crossbar at the start of the second period and United then aimed a series of long balls at the visiting defence. They held firm, safe in the knowledge that another goal on the break would secure victory.
It was gifted to them by Sean Dillon on 61 minutes. The Irish defender played a carelessly short backpass to Cierzniak, who was immediately pressurised by Ryan McGowan. The loose ball fell to Paterson who rolled into the unguarded net.
That destroyed any hope United had of salvaging something from this encounter with Robinson, Novikovas and Dale Carrick all enjoying solid performances.
Substitute John Sutton, Paterson’s replacement, missed from six yards when another sub, Andy Driver, crossed from the right in the 82nd minute.
But Hearts had been clinical enough in attack - not to mention strong in defence – in what transpired as their finest SPL display to date under the tutelage of McGlynn.
Hearts: MacDonald, McGowan, Grainger, Barr, Taouil, Zaliukas, Robinson, Novikovas, Paterson, Carrick, Stevenson