THIS was how to end a six game losing streak, bounce back from a painful Edinburgh derby loss to Hibernian, resurrect your chances of finishing third in the cinch Premiership and get the fans back onside.

Hearts went in to their meeting with bottom-placed Ross County at Tynecastle this afternoon on the back of a wretched run of form and desperately needing a victory to quell growing unrest in the stands.

Lawrence Shankland and his team mates picked up all three points for the first time in 49 days in some style in front of the Sky Sports cameras; they romped into a 3-0 lead in the opening half an hour thanks to Alex Cochrane, Josh Ginnelly and Lawrence Shankland goals.

The Herald:

Shankland converted a penalty just before half-time, Ginnelly got his name on the scoresheet again with a long-range strike early in the second-half and his skipper completed a hat-trick before an hour had passed.  

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The resounding win moved Hearts to within two points of Aberdeen, who play Rangers at Pittodrie tomorrow afternoon, in the league table and gave those supporters who had clamoured for the removal of Robbie Neilson as manager much to cheer and be optimistic about at long last.

Here are five things we learned from the rout.  


Hearts caretaker manager Steven Naismith did not, it is fair to say, boost chances of taking over in Gorgie on a permanent basis in his first game in charge in Leith last week.

But the former Scotland internationalist made amends and then some today.

He made no fewer than five changes to his starting line-up - Nathan Atkinson, Cochrane, Ginnelly, Peter Haring and Yutaro Oda all came in as Michael Smith, Stephen Kingsley, Andy Halliday, Alan Forrest and Jorge Grant dropped out – and switched to a 4-4-2 formation.

His radical surgery successfully stopped the bleeding. Naismith will have to build on this display and result in the remaining five games of the 2022/23 campaign and clinch third in the top flight to stand any chance of being named as Neilson’s full-time successor. But if his charges keep performing as well he has a real chance.


The new technology has caused more controversy in Scottish football once again in recent days; Aberdeen were livid at the red card their player Graeme Shinnie received for his assault on Jack Baldwin of County in Dingwall last week and with their subsequent appeal to the SFA being thrown out.

The Herald:

But VAR ensured that an excellent first-half goal by Ginnelly was allowed to stand in the capital today. Linesman David McGeachie ruled that the forward, who cut inside Dylan Smith and whipped a shot into the top left corner, had been offside when Cammy Devlin played a long ball through to him. But a replay showed that George Harmon had played him on.

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Then in added-on time at the end of the opening 45 minutes referee Don Robertson failed to see that Smith had tripped Shankland in his box. An eagle-eyed colleague in Clydesdale House in Glasgow, though, did not. He urged the match official to have a look at the pitchside monitor and a spot kick was duly and correctly awarded.


The former Ayr United and Dundee United forward was only called in to the Scotland squad for the Euro 2024 qualifier against Spain last month after Che Adams was forced to withdraw.

The 27-year-old will be hard to leave out when the Group A games against Norway and Georgia are played in June if he continues to show the same ruthlessness up front in the coming weeks.

The Herald:

He led his side by example, took his tally for the 2022/23 season to 25 with his first hat-trick since the 4-3 defeat to Celtic back in October and was a deserved recipient of the Man of the Match award.


What made the difference for Hearts today? The change of personnel and system worked a treat for the Tynecastle club. But Ginnelly caused the Ross County defence all kinds of problems. He took both of his goals brilliantly and his energy and directness created scoring opportunities for those around him as well.


The loss of Regan Charles-Cook, Joseph Hungbo and Blair Spittal, a trio who between them had scored more goals than all their team mates put together, last summer has made this a difficult campaign for County. The lack of a cutting edge in the final third has been keenly felt by the Highlanders.

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But today they were poor in every department. They were fortunate the margin of the defeat was not even greater. Their opponents hit the woodwork twice and their goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw pulled off a few outstanding saves.

Substitute Owura Edwards-Owura scored a consolation goal from the spot with six minutes remaining. But Malky Mackay clearly, even with Dundee United and Kilmarnock also struggling, has a huge fight on his hands to ensure his side survive in the Premiership and he remains in a job. It was the heaviest reverse his men have suffered this term.