Hearts 1-2 Dundee: Admirable Nelson nets on debut as Dee move off bottom spot

Dundee’s top flight survival hopes were given a huge boost on a concerning night for the Hearts faithful, who watched the previously struggling visitors twice take the lead.

Andrew Nelson celebrates scoring the winner on his debut as Dundee moved off the bottom spot. Picture: SNS Group

The Dens Park side’s own loyal band of fans celebrated a memorable win. Their team are now off the bottom of the table after a first win at Tynecastle since 2012.

Dundee shocked the home fans by scoring first through Genseric Kusunga after 23 minutes. These supporters’ fears were temporarily allayed by an deflected equaliser after Olly Lee’s free-kick struck the top of Jesse Curran’s head five minutes before half-time. New signing Andrew Nelson’s well-struck shot just after the hour mark following a mistake from on-loan Hearts defender Conor Shaughnessy proved the decisive goal.

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Both new faces in the Hearts line-up endured difficult nights. There will be better days ahead for new centre forward David Vanecek.

Signed so long ago that fans’ expectations were allowed to soar to unreasonable levels, he found the going tough in his second start in four days in front of home fans he was trying so hard to impress.

Despite the circumstances, there was no mercy from Hearts manager Craig Levein, and he hooked the big striker after just 32 minutes. There was no apparent injury. Only some understandably wounded pride. Steven Maclean replaced him.

Vanecek had been completely dominated by Dundee’s on-loan centre-half Ryan Inniss. On those occasions when Inniss was not winning aerial battles his defensive partner, the equally lofty Kusunga, would inevitably take the strain. Kusunga also put Dundee ahead in an eventful first-half.

The Angolan defender has experienced a mixed time of it at Dundee since arriving last season. He has scored two own goals already during this campaign meaning the rampaging run that saw him, eventually, collect his first goal for Dundee puts him on minus one goals for the club. He put through his own net in the first minute of his last visit to Edinburgh in a 2-2 draw against Hibs. He made amends last night with a goal that the centre-half even made himself by disposing Vanecek around 30 yards from the Hearts goal - this might have been the moment Levein first began to consider replacing his new striker, who was looking leaden-footed.

Kusunga still had much to do. He moved forward with the ball at his feet while not looking sure quite what to do with it. Nelson offered support to his right and Kusunga took the opportunity to off-load and then swept home the return ball. Tynecastle was stunned. The realisation Kusunga had netted seemed to take a while to sink among the 247 away supporters as well.

The atmosphere was strangely muffled when the game kicked off. It was possible to discern trepidation among the home supporters. Quite why was not apparent at the time but the subdued atmosphere anticipated what proved a bright opening spell for the visitors, who perhaps felt they had little to lose.

The loudest cheer in this period was when John Souttar emerged from the dug out for the first time to warm up. The defender is on the comeback trail after being out since injuring himself while on Scotland duty

He was sent for Callumn Morrison after 56 minutes in a further sign Hearts were not having it all their own way. But they were at least back on level terms after a slightly fortunate equaliser five minutes before half-time. Dundee right-back had careered into a challenge on Demetri Mitchell he did not have to make to hand Hearts a free-kick in a dangerous area. Lee whipped an effort towards goal that deflected off the top of Jesse Curran’s head and looped over Seny Dieng’s head into the far corner of the goal.

There was a hope among the home fans that Hearts would now stop being so careless and engage with putting the game to bed. But it was the visitors who took the lead once more after 62 minutes.

Craig Curran, who recently swapped Dundee United for Dundee, created the goal following a break down the left after more slackness in the Hearts defence, this time from Shaughnessy. Craig Curran took full advantage of the situation before cutting the back for Nelson, who was similarly decisive after taking a quick touch to set himself before rifling a shot past Colin Doyle.

The striker signed last week from Sunderland and looked dangerous from the opening moments last night. An early shot had tested Doyle. The goal was his last contribution of last night, however, and he was immediately replaced by Fraser Moore. The worry for Dundee was that there was still so long to go. As expected, Hearts poured forward. Aidan Keena saw a volley flash past a post. But Dundee held on for a victory they merited – and which was greeted with jeers from the home stands.