THIS delightful away victory for Hearts brought memories back to the heady days at the start of the season and some magical moments for the Gorgie side. Their Fife showing was equal to many a day at the beginning of the season.
Dunfermline 1-4 Hearts
January 14, 2006
Dunfermline gave their opponents a minor bout of the wobbles when Mark Burchill reduced the deficit to 2-1 only two minutes after Michal Pospisil had appeared to have killed off the resistance of Jim Leishman’s men. But any prospect of a home comeback was snuffed out by the Czech’s second and Hearts’ third ten minutes later, allowing the Edinburgh team to gallop towards a first away league victory since winning at Inverness on September 17.
The aroma around the entire Hearts operation was beginning to have a fragrancy about it. Like the Old Firm, the Tynecastle club had the capacity to make opponents feel inferior just at the very thought of the level at which they are operating. Regardless of who they were playing, second-bottom Dunfermline would have approached a home game yesterday full of trepidation.
That their visitors happened to be the Tynecastle side would only have strengthened feelings of unease.
Plenty scoffed when Graham Rix opened his transfer window deals with a £60,000 purchase of Yeovil’s Lee Johnson and a loan arrangement that brought Lithuanian utility player Nerijus Barasa from feeder club FBK Kaunas. These two debuted from the bench in Fife. But if Hearts were to tie up a £850,000 deal with Racing Genk of Belgium for Bosnian winger Mirsad Beslija and land a couple more of the “exciting targets” Rix had spoken of, then their status as the most hungry Scottish club in 2006 would be unquestionable. In Paul Hartley, Steven Pressley and Rudi Skacel they had pivotal figures who continued to show the appetite to chase down league leaders Celtic.
They took a little time to warm up against Leishman’s men. Midway through the first period, indeed, the home side could have put the cat among the pigeons after Craig Gordon released the ball to prevent himself sliding out of the area with it. The goalkeeper only succeeded in setting up Burchill and after his first effort was blocked, only a back-tracking Pressley prevented the striker’s second attempt heading into the goal.
The match then burst to life. In his 300th appearance for the club, Pressley gave Rix’s men a 39th minute lead. He did so by turning a Calum Elliot shot over the line from close range after the forward had met a Hartley free kick at the back post.
The moment Pospisil doubled Hearts’ advantage in the 55th, neatly squeezing a low drive beyond the Dunfermline keeper from a Robbie Neilson cutback after a slick move involving Saulius Mikoliunas, the entire home side seemed down. Yet, they quickly sprang up after Burchill nipped in behind the Hearts backline to fasten on to a high through ball before applying a messy finish.
There was nothing messy about Pospisil’s simple header from a Hartley free-kick immediately after, however. It caused the home supporters to lose voices they had found when Andy Tod had the ball in the net only for the strike to be disallowed in the moments before they found themselves 3-1 down. A neat diagonal pass by Julien Brellier then allowed Skacel to complete the scoring.