On a poignant afternoon for the Jambos, wonder strikes by Rudi Skacel and David Templeton ensured Hearts got their fourth 2-0 win on the trot in the SPL.
There had been a minute’s silence before the match in memory of Hearts’ legendary goalkeeper Jim Cruickshank who passed away days before, aged 69.
Current ’keeper Marian Kello joined in the tribute by hanging a yellow No.1 Cruickshank jersey on the back of his net in honour of the goalie who turned out 610 times for Jambos in the 1960s and ’70s.
And the 28-year-old Slovakian went on to ensure the strip – which was signed by all the Hearts players after the game and would be presented to the Cruickshank family – stayed unruffled during the 90 minutes with a tremendous performance including a brilliant penalty save.
Kello, who dedicated his display to the memory of Cruickshank, said: “It was an emotional occasion. I felt a connection with Jim and I wanted to get a clean sheet for him.
“The whole game meant a lot to me because of Jim and the penalty save helped make it more special.
“The penalty came at a very important time because if they scored it would have gone to 2-1 and it would have been a difficult time for us late in the game.”
Hearts ended up cruising to the three points but there was little between the sides early on.
Skacel was the main goal threat for Hearts, the midfielder rattling the side netting with a free kick before the Czech star thumped a volley over the bar from just inside the box.
Hamilton’s response was a Gavin Skelton 25-yarder that the diving Kello pushed round the post and a long-range Dougie Imrie header which sailed wide of the upright.
Then Skacel lit up the game in 32 minutes when he struck in deadly fashion. There appeared little danger as Ruben Palazuelos took a quick throw-in to Skacel but the midfielder saw a gap and sent an angled dipping volley flying past Tomas Cerny into the far corner of the net.
If that was spectacular then it was more than matched by Templeton in 52 minutes. Hamilton could not clear their lines properly from a Kevin Kyle header and skipper Marius Zaliukas laid the ball into the path of Templeton who was lurking at the edge of the box. All the winger needed was a touch before he sent a stunning shot sailing into the top corner.
The home side pushed for a third by pumping high balls into Kyle who was causing chaos in the heart of the Hamilton defence while at the other end Kello again proved his worth in 64 minutes.
Imrie burst clear down the left and squared to Damian Casalinuovo but Kello raced off his line to smother the striker’s shot.
Hamilton boss Billy Reid went for broke by throwing on Marco and Flavio Paixao for Gary McDonald and David Buchanan. And Accies were thrown a lifeline on 79 minutes when Flavio Paixao got goal-side of Palazuelos in the box and had his jersey tugged by the Spaniard. Simon Mensing – who had netted his previous eight penalties – went for the right-hand corner only to be denied by Kello to provide a fitting finale for an emotional day at Tynecastle.
Hearts: Kello, Jonsson, Palazeulos, Bouzid, Mrowiec, Zaliukas, Black, Skacel, Kyle, Elliott, Templeton.