Maroon Memories: Stephen Elliott’s double delight

Andy Webster, making his second debut for Hearts, congratulates Stephen Elliott who scored twice

Andy Webster, making his second debut for Hearts, congratulates Stephen Elliott who scored twice

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Hearts consolidated third place in the Scottish Premier League with a comfortable victory away to Hamilton which left their hosts rooted to the foot of the table.

The defeat meant Accies had still failed to win a home game in the league, while Hearts had now firmly cemented third place behind Rangers and Celtic.

New signing Andy Webster made his second debut for the visitors having been released by Rangers, replacing Algerian defender Ismael Bouzid, while Lee Wallace came in for Adrian Mrowiec.

Hamilton made four changes to the side that lost at home to Dundee United in the Scottish Cup the previous week, with Marco Paixao, Mark Carrington and Andy Graham dropping down to the bench and Lee Kilday left out altogether.

In came David Elebert, Gavin Skelton, Jim McAlister and 17-year-old defender Ziggy Gordon.

Mickael Antoine-Curier was Accies’ lone striker, but he had almost no support in the opening stages as Hearts held on to possession.

In the 16th minute, McAlister dispossessed Wallace but ended up sending his cross towards an empty back post.

Moments later at the other end, Tynecastle midfielder Eggert Jonsson headed over from a Rudi Skacel corner.

It was a full 22 minutes before any significant action surfaced with both sides playing at a fairly pedestrian pace. But then Stephen Elliott leapt on to a Wallace cross to head in from six yards out for the first goal to put the Edinburgh visitors into the lead.

With 30 minutes played, Craig Thomson fired a powerful shot wide of the Accies goal as the Hearts went in search of a second.

Five minutes from the interval, Ruben Palazuelos fired a shot towards goal but he was denied by Accies keeper Tomas Cerny.

Barely 30 seconds after the re-start, Marius Zaliukas was the provider as Elliott doubled Hearts’ lead with another headed goal from inside the six-yard box. Hearts keeper Marian Kello was called into action in the 50th minute for the first time when he made a fine save from Elebert’s close-range header following an in-swinging cross from Flavio Paixao.

Jim Jefferies’ men continued to pile on the pressure and, shortly before the hour mark, Elliott fired in a shot from 25 yards out as he attempted to bag a hat-trick, but Cerny tipped the ball over the bar.

McAlister tested Kello who was equal to the task, then Jonathon Routledge broke through the Hearts defence in a rare Accies attack with 15 minutes remaining, but his effort sailed wide of the mark.

Hearts continued to dominate play and Accies seemed to become frustrated as the visitors casually knocked the ball about in a bid to see out time.

A flurry of late corners for the hosts failed to inspire Billy Reid’s men to pick up a consolation, allowing Hearts to keep a clean sheet and take all three points back to Tynecastle.

Hearts: Kello, Wallace, Webster, Thomson, Zaliukas, Jonsson, Palazuelos, Santana, Black, Elliot, Skacel.