Maroon Memories: Hearts’ prayers are answered by Andy Kirk at Tannadice
Hearts bounced back from selling Gary Naysmith by clinically destroying Dundee United at Tannadice with a four-goal salvo, making it 15 goals conceded in four matches for the hosts.
Striker Andy Kirk did his utmost to command a future regular place with a confident double for the Jambos, sandwiched between goals by Robert Tomaschek and defender Kevin James as the Tynecastle men lifted their on-field mood despite financial difficulties.
Another heavy defeat, though, for United, and it was difficult to see any signs of improvement on their horizon.
In an attempt to halt their dismal run, United chief Alex Smith rang changes to freshen up his side.
Recent signing Stephen Wright, was allocated a right-back berth and recalls came for Stephen Thompson, David Partridge, Joachim Fernandez and Jamie Buchan from the line-up which was easily brushed aside 3-0 at Rangers.
Hearts, their spirit not helped by their sale of Naysmith to Everton on the Friday, at least had a regular look about them, welcoming influential Slovak midfielder Tomaschek back.
United obviously had not learned their recent lessons, when Hearts opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a simply-constructed goal.
Steve Fulton, playing in the left-back role, swung in a harmless looking cross midway inside United’s half and, while the Tangerines’ defence looked on, Tomaschek had the simplest of tasks to direct his 12-yard header into the corner of the net.
Mvondo Atangana realised that he should have done much better when he hurriedly volleyed over from close range whilst unattended in the home side’s first tangible glimpse at goal after 19 minutes. Hearts, though, were rampant and got a simple second. Again it was a case of no defence, as young Ulsterman Kirk drilled in a shot inside the box after United’s failure to deal with a low Juanjo corner in the 24th minute.
The two combined again on the half-hour mark for a third when the Spaniard muscled his way through the goal-line, before his precise cutback was swiftly despatched by the 21-year-old Northern Ireland internationalist.
United showed a little more urgency at the start of the second half, with Hasney Aljofree blasting a free-kick over before their frustration took hold, with David Partridge booked for a lunge on Gordon Durie.
For the previous 57 minutes, United’s new Argentinian, Marcelino Galoppo, was anonymous but it was his intelligent pass which set up a half-chance for Angana, only for the striker to divert an effort on to the side netting. Gordon Petric was denied only by a superb instinctive save by Alan Combe, as the towering defender got himself on to the end of a Fulton corner.
United’s striking poverty was all too graphically illustrated when Antti Niemi saved a weak Thompson header before substitute Tassos Venetis passed up another clear opportunity, but the danger to Hearts was minimal. James endeared himself to the travelling fans when he side-footed home after being set up by Durie for Hearts’ fourth. The goal, in the 80th minute, completed the romp.
Dundee Utd: A Combe, S Wright (J McQuillan, 28), J De Vos, D Partridge, H Aljofree, J Fernandez, M Galoppo (C Marcora, 62), J Buchan, S Thompson, G Fuentes, M Atangana (T Venetis, 62). Subs not used:P Ramirez, P Onstad.
Hearts: A Niemi, S Pressley, K James, G Petric, S Fulton (D Jackson, 81), Juanjo, G Murray, C Cameron (T Flogel, 79), R Tomaschek, G Durie, A Kirk (G McSwegan, 83). Subs not used:A Graham, G Rousset.
Referee: Stuart Dougal.