Hearts remain unbeaten after disappointing Dundee draw
Jason Cummings’ late goal rescued a point for Dundee at Tynecastle, cancelling out John Souttar’s opener. Jamie McIntosh reports.
It’s perhaps a sign of just how far this Hearts side has come under Robbie Neilson that a home draw with Dundee (which they dominated for large periods without playing their best) resulted in such disappointment from the Tynecastle crowd.
It’s no secret that these two sides don’t exactly like each other after the vote debacle that saw the 2019/20 season ended prematurely, so Tynecastle was at its raucous best for the visit of Dundee.
As you would expect, Hearts came out the traps fast, dominating possession, spreading the play from side to side and firing crosses into the box, as they so often do with their new three-man defence.
After some half chances at both ends, the first clear-cut chance fell to Hearts’ top scorer, Liam Boyce, after 25 minutes. Ben Woodburn’s shot was deflected behind and from Michael Smith’s resulting corner, Boyce saw his header come back off the bar before being scrambled to safety.
Despite the majority of their players being merely spectators for the opening half hour, Dundee remained on level terms having weathered the early storm and were slowly but surely getting a foothold in the game.
The frustration was beginning to show in maroon and Woodburn was perhaps fortunate to only be shown a yellow, after appearing to throw an elbow into Jordan Marshall’s face.
Hearts got the goal their start to the match had warranted and what a wonderful goal it was. After a Hearts move appeared to have broken down, the ball was played back to John Souttar on the edge of the penalty area.
Instead of putting the laces through it, Souttar whipped the ball with his right foot into the top corner. The ball was curled away from Adam Legzdins and into the top corner to put the hosts ahead after 38 minutes.
Hearts did have a chance to double their lead before the break after good work from Barrie McKay, however some last ditch defending saw the visitors go in at half time trailing by just one.
Gary Mackay-Steven was introduced at half time in place of Woodburn as Hearts went in search of a second goal that would secure three points and see the Jambos move to top spot in the cinch Premiership.
James McPake’s first sub introduced Danny Mullen in place of Luke McCowan and the substitute had the ball in the back of the net just a minute later, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
Liam Boyce hobbled off on the hour mark and was replaced by Armand Gnanduillet, which would’ve been a concern for Hearts boss Robbie Neilson, who was watching on from the side-lines after his red card at Ibrox last weekend resulted in a three-game suspension.
Hearts should’ve doubled their advantage after 62 minutes. A swift Hearts attack saw the ball switched out right to Smith – his shot was saved by Legzdins, before Mackay-Steven hit the post with the rebound.
Leigh Griffiths would’ve gone to sleep last night and dreamt of scoring the winner in front of 17,000 fans who had heckled him all game. Unfortunately for the ex-Hibs and Celtic striker, it wasn’t to be, and bar an optimistic overhead kick attempt in the second half that went harmlessly wide, he’d barely had a sniff before being replaced by Cillian Sheridan for the final 20 minutes.
Despite his side offering very little in an attacking sense, you couldn’t accuse manager James McPake of not ‘having a go’. The visitors finished the match with forwards Jason Cummings, Danny Mullen and Cillian Sheridan all on the pitch.
With the home side still only a solitary goal in front, a few nerves were beginning to settle in amongsth the Tynecastle crowd and goalkeeper Craig Gordon was called upon twice to deny Sheridan, as Dundee began to throw everything at Hearts.
Similarly to the game at Ibrox last weekend, after all of Hearts’ missed chances, there was a sense of inevitability about what would happen next.
The Hearts defence went to sleep from Cammy Kerr’s long throw and another ex-Hibs forward, Cummings, pounced to spark bedlam in the away end and provide the equaliser for the visitors with seven minutes to play.
Following seven minutes of additional time, referee Gavin Duncan brought an end to a game in which Hearts simply threw two points away in.
The real concern for the Jambos faithful won’t be the fact they conceded from the simplicity of a long throw, but just how serious is the injury to top scorer Liam Boyce ahead of trips to St. Johnstone and Aberdeen in the next seven days.