Kilmarnock 0, Hearts 3: September 27, 1997.
HEARTS leapfrogged Rangers when they stormed back to the top of the Premier Division after ripping Kilmarnock apart with a ruthless first-half display at Rugby Park.
Goals from David Weir, Jim Hamilton and Stephane Adam – his first in the league – in the opening 45 minutes, secured a third successive away victory for the Jambos.
Weir gave Hearts the perfect start by opening the scoring after just seven minutes. After Jim Hamilton had been fouled by Mark Reilly just outside the box, Steve Fulton saw his effort from the free-kick go straight into the defensive wall before Colin Cameron forced a corner as the ball ran loose on the right.
Fulton sent over a left-foot cross to the near post and Weir met it perfectly to send a downward header past the helpless goalkeeper Colin Meldrum.
Hearts were really buzzing in the early stages, and it was no real surprise when they did increase their lead in the 14th minute.
Following a series of quick passes inside the Killie half, Adam slipped a lovely reverse pass into the path of Hamilton and, from just inside the box, the former Dundee star drilled a right-foot shot into the corner of the net.
In the 18th minute they should have found themselves further in front.
Neil McCann picked up the ball just inside the Killie half before releasing Cameron on his right. The former Raith star was clean through on Meldrum, only to screw his right-foot shot wide of the goalkeeper’s far post.
Hearts had defended very well until the 38th minute when Frenchman Jerome Vareilee was allowed to get on the end of an Ally Mitchell cross at the back post, sending a downward header just wide of the target.
In the 43rd minute, Meldrum was forced to rush off his line to head the ball clear as McCann chased a long punt from Weir. But, just seconds later, the young Killie keeper found himself picking the ball out of the net for a third time as Hearts put the icing on a superb first-half performance.
Fulton’s free-kick from the right was only half-cleared, allowing Hamilton to play the ball into the six-yard box, where Adam was waiting to prod a shot past Meldrum.
Hearts who were soon back on the attack after the interval and they almost made it 4-0 in the 48th minute.
Neil Pointon showed great tenacity to win the ball near the half way line before releasing McCann down the left. He teased and tormented Kevin McGowne before skipping past the big defender and swinging a cross over to the back post.
It was met by Adam who fired in a downward shot but, on this occasion, the Frenchman’s effort went wide of the target.
There was an anxious moment for Hearts in the 54th minute when Gilles Rousset was almost caught in possession as he tried to play the ball out following a pass back from Weir.
Hearts were still looking very dangerous on the break and they threatened again shortly afterwards when Adam glanced a header into the path of Cameron.
The little midfielder surged forward into the Killie box but his attempt to find Hamilton inside him was cut out by a Killie defender.
Hearts: Rousset, McManus, Pointon, Weir, Salvatori, Richie, McCann, Fulton, Hamilton, Cameron, Adam.