Story of Hearts 1-1 Dundee: Jason Cummings repeats Hibs trick, Jambos left to rue not killing game

When Jason Cummings stepped off the bench on 62 minutes as Dundee chased an equaliser at Tynecastle against Hearts, those fans of a maroon persuasion would have been forgiven for some anxiety.

Jason Cummings glances a header home to level the scores for Dundee.
Jason Cummings glances a header home to level the scores for Dundee.

Cummings was a thorn in Hearts’ side when in Hibs colours, scoring crucial goals in the Championship and, in particular, the Scottish Cup against them. He popped up once again to deny the Edinburgh club, his 83rd-minute goal levelling the scores after John Souttar had put Hearts ahead.

Hearts are still undefeated in the cinch Premiership and move top of the league, until at least 2pm on Sunday, on goal difference ahead of Rangers, who face St Mirren at noon. However, there was an air of frustration around Gorgie after the hosts paid the price for not putting the game to bed.

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For the first 60 minutes, Hearts were the better team. They held most of the possession, kept Dundee at arm’s length but could not fashion enough clear-cut chances. Despite being on the back foot more often than not, you felt Dundee had a goal in them given their armoury.

The Hearts players celebrate John Souttar's opening goal against Dundee.

James McPake’s men had claimed their first league win of the season last week against Aberdeen and they don’t have the gait of a team that will be truly in a relegation scrap. Mercilessly but predictably barracked by the Hearts fans, Leigh Griffiths led the line admirably for 65 minutes and, spurred on by captain Charlie Adam and with an array of attacking options in Cummings, Cillian Sheridan and Danny Mullen on the bench, the Dees always carry a threat.

In the first half, though, Dundee were hemmed in. Their 4-3-3 formation was not equipped to deal with Hearts’ ball-playing centre-backs in Stephen Kingsley and Souttar stepping out and continually switching the play. Hearts have flourished in a 3-4-3 formation this term and while the much-vaunted midfield pairing of Cammy Devlin and Beni Baningime were tidy enough, they lacked a killer ball to pierce Dundee’s steady centre-back pairing of Nathan Sweeney and Lee Ashcroft.

Liam Boyce headed a Michael Smith corner off the bar in the opening 20 minutes but most of the play was in front of Dundee’s back four, not behind it. A goal would need a bit of quality and it came via Souttar, who is so accomplished with the ball at his feet for a defender. When Ben Woodburn teed him up, Souttar curled a lovely effort over Adam Legzdins and into far corner. Tynecastle erupted, sensing another win.

Dundee stayed afloat, however, although had Gary Mackay-Steven found the net rather than scudding the post from close range, McPake and Co would have been sunk.

Much of the talk before kick-off had been about hostilities between the two clubs, relationships soured by Hearts’ demotion to the Championship when the pandemic started and the part Dundee played in it. Tempers never really frayed until Cummings found an inch of space and glanced a Cammy Kerr long throw past Craig Gordon. Dundee’s merry band of fans housed behind that goal went ballistic, and some stupidly tried to clamber over the tarpaulin separating the two sets of supports in the Roseburn Stand. Stewards had to intervene.

Hearts tried to rally but were unable to find a winner and Dundee head back the A90 very satisfied indeed.

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