Maroon Memories: Levein discovers his team will never say die

Steven Pressley slots home the penalty past Derek Soutar to win the game for Hearts
Steven Pressley slots home the penalty past Derek Soutar to win the game for Hearts
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HEARTS kicked off the season in the City of Discovery – and boss Craig Levein found out that his squad looked well equipped for the campaign ahead.

The Gorgie outfit may have had to wait until six minutes from time before Steven Pressley’s match-winning contribution from the penalty spot but it was no more than Hearts deserved.

Target man Mark de Vries was ruled out by a hamstring problem, while Kevin McKenna, his natural replacement in attack, was also sidelined by a knee injury. With Stephen Simmons and Neil Janczyk also out and Jamie McAllister and Michael Stewart only fit enough for places on the bench, it was not Levein’s strongest team which went into battle.

The foundation for the victory was based on a rock-solid defence marshalled superbly by Pressley. With Craig Gordon, Andy Webster and Alan Maybury also starting, four out of Hearts’ back five were full internationalists.

With the back line standing firm it was up to the Jambos’ attack to produce the goods and Ramon Pereira and Graham Weir worked tirelessly to get in behind Dundee’s rearguard.

The Spaniard was superb and was at the centre of almost all of Hearts’ attacks. He set up Weir with just eight minutes on the clock only for the diminutive frontman to be denied by the legs of Derek Soutar. Pereira had a great chance himself after 16 minutes, his volley from Joe Hamill’s cross smashing off the bar.

Pereira could easily have marked his first competitive game for the club with a goal, the 25-year-old carving out another two decent chances in the first half without any luck.

The opening goal, which Hearts deserved, looked like it was going to arrive on the stroke of half-time, Weir shooting past from a good position under pressure from Brent Sancho. Craig Gordon’s only save on a surprisingly quiet afternoon for the 21-year-old came seconds after the restart when he held a Neil Jablonski shot at his near post. And that was about as good as it got for the home side, who had gone into the match with the spectre of administration having been removed 24 hours earlier.

Hearts continued to have the better of the game with both Phil Stamp and Alan Maybury producing good saves from Soutar. But it was the Dundee keeper who would prove to be the villain of the piece for the home side just as they looked like they were going to hang on for a share of the points.

He pulled down Pereira in the box as the Spaniard tried to round him after being put through by Hamill and Pressley stepped up to confidently convert from the spot.

The skipper had missed two penalties in the pre-season friendlies but showed little signs of nerves as he drove the ball into the back of the net.