A THIRD of Kris Boyd's league goals have come against Gary Locke's side this season.

The Hearts manager was resigned afterwards, shaking his head; admitting that the striker had been the unwelcome difference again.

Boyd was dangerous, deadly, industrious and also - dare we say it - even a little wasteful. Yet the sight of a ghastly free kick hoiked into the stands and a couple of missed hat trick chances were not enough to sully his contribution. He has now 18 goals for the season, perched back in a familiar position at the top of the SPFL Premiership goalscorers chart, alongside Celtic's Kris Commons.

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"Did I expect it [to score so many] at the beginning of the season?" Boyd said. "No, because although I thought we had great attacking players I felt with all the changes it would maybe have taken a bit longer to settle everyone in. But we've put on decent performances and I've managed to get on the scoresheet."

His first showed a knack of timing, faking to shoot a couple of times until the perfect moment to fire beyond Jamie MacDonald. His second owed more to Rory McKenzie. In the first half, the forward had surged to the byeline, crossed, and forced Danny Wilson to score an own goal. His burst of searing pace for Boyd's second was more impressive still, leaving Jordan McGhee for dead and the striker a chance to blast into the net.

Jeroen Tesselaar was also a stand-out for the hosts, creating his side's fourth with a cross back to Michael Gardyne after the forward had seen a ferocious shot palmed on to the crossbar. Sporting his jet-black mask, he dashed up and down the wing, occasionally showing off his remarkably unorthodox spinning throw-in, which might have the crowd at Lord's muttering in disapproval but seems to go down well at Rugby Park.

Hearts managed two goals. Their first was a brave lob from Dale Carrick, which looped up into the air and landed sweetly between the posts. The forward was clattered by Lee Ashcroft and Craig Samson in the follow-through and could only raise a pained arm in muted celebration. Sam Nicholson grabbed a second later on, but it is now just a matter of time until they are relegated.

"If it's going to happen, it's going to happen," sighed Ryan Stevenson. "The biggest thing for us as players is if we do go down we don't just accept it. With everything the club has been through it would be poor on our front. We've got nine games left and the least that the fans and the club deserve is that we give 110%."