Raith Rovers 0 Hearts 4: Jambos clear at the top

James Keatings wheels away in celebration after putting Hearts 1-0 up. Pic: SNS
James Keatings wheels away in celebration after putting Hearts 1-0 up. Pic: SNS
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Hearts moved two points clear at the top of the Championship as a hat-trick from James Keatings laid the foundations for a commanding victory over Raith Rovers.

Substitute Gary Oliver sealed the rout as the Gorgie side maintained their perfect start to life in the second tier of Scottish football.

They took the lead with the first proper chance of the match after 13 minutes when Keatings followed up to fire into an open goal after Sam Nicholson’s backheeled attempt from Billy King’s cutback was scrambled off the line by Jason Thomson.

Five minutes later the visitors went close again when Jason Holt drilled a low 20 yard shot just past the post.

Hearts extended their lead in 28 minutes when Keatings followed up to rasp home a low shot from the edge of the box after first King and then Prince Buaben had seen powerful shots of their own blocked.

Raith threatened in 41 minutes but Martin Scott headed just wide from Ryan Conroy’s corner.

Keatings almost claimed his hat-trick three minutes after the break but his low shot from the edge of the box was blocked by Kevin Cuthbert after a thrusting run down the left from Jason Holt to set him up.

However, the former Hamilton player wasn’t to be denied and he got his third in the 59th minute when he curled a delightful left-footed free-kick high past Cuthbert from 20 yards out.

Raith almost pulled one back from a free-kick of their own in 69 minutes but Conroy’s goalbound effort was brilliantly tipped over by Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton.

Oliver completed the scoring when he lashed home a low strike from just inside the box in the last minute.

Raith Rovers: Cuthbert; Thomson, Perry, Watson, McKeown; Anderson, Fox (Vaughan 70), Scott, Conroy; Stewart (Moon 64), Nade. Subs: Callachan, Ellis, Matthews, Bates, Laidlaw.

Hearts: Hamilton; McGhee, Ozturk, Wilson, McHattie; Gomis (Oliver 70), Buaben (Robinson 56); King, Holt, Nicholson; Keatings. Subs: Hollis, McKay, L Smith, Roy (Keatings 82), D Smith.

Ref: Craig Charleston

Att: 6,105