• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Raith Rovers 0 Hearts 4: Tynecastle side size up the perfect 10 after flawless victory

Danny Wilson has always played as if possessing an old head on young shoulders, so it should come as no surprise that he has his feet planted firmly on the ground as he looks up at Hearts' lofty position at the top of the SPFL Championship following three hugely impressive victories.

James Keatings takes the match ball home. Picture: SNS
James Keatings takes the match ball home. Picture: SNS

Title favourites Rangers were first to fall, followed swiftly by Edinburgh derby rivals Hibernian, but this visit to Raith Rovers was a completely different test for the Tynecastle side; their task to ensure they could keep up their high standards against less illustrious opponents. A victory with a performance as comprehensive and as convincing as the score-line suggests answered the question in decisive fashion.

James Keatings, who started in place of the suspended Osman Sow, stole the show - and the match ball - with an accomplished hat trick but in reality the forward was simply the eye-catching spearhead of a slick Hearts team that appears to be ominously well-oiled already. With Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben perpetual motion in midfield, it was the searing pace, unflinching ambition and incisive interplay of an attacking quartet of Billy King, Jason Holt, Sam Nicholson and Keatings which Raith were unable to counter. On this evidence, other teams will struggle to contain them too.

It has been an impressive opening to the campaign, one that augurs extremely well for the coming weeks and months, but Robbie Neilson, the Hearts head coach, insisted his cool demeanour may only change if his team is able to maintain its perfect record for 10 matches. It is a goal Wilson believes is not beyond the Edinburgh side, albeit predictions to that effect are not as easy to wheedle out of the 22-year-old.

"I would like to think that we could," said Wilson when asked if 10 straight wins was an attainable target for his side. "But I'm not going to say we definitely will. If we keep playing the way we have been, I don't see why not.

"We've had a good start, three out of three is good, but it would be tough to go 10 games winning. But we've had good performances and it's going to be when we don't play as well, can we still get a result? That's going to be the main thing. It's a good start we've had, we're delighted with that. But it's still only a start and we've still got a long way to go."

Ominously, only 13 minutes had elapsed when Hearts edged in front. King's pace allowed him to meet a loose ball ahead of the hesitant Raith goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert and the Hearts forward's cutback was flicked towards goal by Nicholson. When Jason Thomson prevented the ball from crossing the line, Keatings joyfully marked his first league start for Hearts by hammering in from close range.

The 22-year-old's debut goal turned into a deadly double after 28 minutes and again he showed a clinical instinct inside the penalty box. King and Buaben both had shots repelled but Keatings was in the right place at the right time to sweep the ball into the net in from 15 yards out.

His third goal ended Raith's resistance, with the former Celtic and Hamilton Academical player curling a free-kick into Cuthbert's top corner 12 minutes into the second half after Nicholson had been felled during yet another lively counter-attack. It would be difficult to argue that substitute Gary Oliver's strike in the 90th minute, spearing a loose ball into the net, was not well deserved.

"We're not going to win the league just by beating Hibs and Rangers," added Wilson. "We're going to have go to away days like Saturday and put on performances and grind out results. We didn't really have to grind out the result against Raith, we played really well, but I'm sure throughout the season we'll have to do that and we'll have to make sure we're ready."

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

256953