Scott boobs give Jambos Euro lifeline; HEARTS .............2 DUNFERMLINE ..0
Byline: KEVIN McALLION at Tynecastle
HEARTS kept their European hopes alive with three priceless points as Dunfermline defender Scott Thomson paid the penalty for two costly errors.
Thomson had the chance to cancel out Kevin McKenna's opener from the spot late on but his week effort was easily kept out by keeper Antti Niemi.
And to rub salt into the wounds he lost possession to Ricardo Fuller moments later and the Jamaican set up Jambos sub Andy Kirk for the crucial second.
It all but killed off the Pars' Euro bid but Hearts have a realistic chance of catching Livingston in fourth place with two games to go.
Jambos defender Andy Tod failed to shake off a shin injury in time for game but Alan Maybury recovered from a groin knock to take his usual place at right-back.
Dunfermline manager Jimmy Calderwood was hit harder by injuries and his starting line up was missing five regulars with Ian Ferguson, Youssef Rossi, Chris McGroarty, Lee Bullen and Seyni N'Diaye all absent.
Hearts were first to threaten when a lovely piece of skill by Thomas Flogel sent Fuller free, but his cross was turned behind for a corner.
Flogel stepped up to take the set-piece and found McKenna on the penalty spot. However, the Canada star's header looped just wide.
McKenna then slid in dangerously on Davie Nicholls to give Dunfermline a free-kick 20 yards from goal and Scott Thomson stepped up to bring an excellent save out of Niemi.
Austrian star Flogel was playing in an unfamiliar striking role and went close in 18 minutes with a header that drifted just over from Kenny Milne's excellent knock-on.
Jambos boss Craig Levein was forced into a switch five minutes later when Stephane Mahe was stretchered off after a seemingly innocuous clash to be replaced by Stevie Fulton.
Excitement was thin on the ground but Fuller lifted spirits in 28 minutes with a laughable 20-yard effort that flew out for a THROW-IN five yards behind where he first took aim!
Sub Fulton came much closer moments later with a thumping long-range effort that was well held by Marco Ruitenbeek.
Scott Severin then fired in another good 25-yard strike that roared over before Dunfermline wasted the best chance so far after 38 minutes.
Jason Dair's cross from the left wasn't properly cleared and the ball fell to Gus MacPherson 16 yards out only for the defender to wildly blaze over on his left foot.
The ever-expanding Fulton showed hidden reserves of pace to burst free inside the box moments later but Fuller couldn't direct his cross goalward under pressure from Thomson.
Dunfermline replied with a low effort from Dair that scudded just wide from 25 yards.
It was a close call for Hearts but Niemi didn't seem worried that the ball was going to end up in the bottom corner of his net.
The game needed a goal badly and Hearts finally got one in 59 minutes from a well worked set-piece after MacPherson had lunged in on Flogel.
Fulton whipped in a low free-kick from the left and McKenna showed a deft touch to steer a left-foot volley into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
Pars responded by sending on Colin Nish for the fading Nicholls and went with just two at the back as they desperately searched for an equaliser.
Nish gained his side a penalty in 78 minutes when Maybury toppled him, but Thomson's spot-kick was saved by Niemi to his left.
And Jambos wrapped up the points 10 minutes from time when Fuller made a fool of Thomson on the right before squaring to Kirk who made no mistake with a fine low finish from 12 yards.
KEVIN TONER tried to let the game flow but was far too lenient. He let four shocking fouls go unpunished and it wasn't until he booked Barry Nicholson after the interval that I believed he hadn't left his cards at home. Rating: 5/10
Fouls committed 17
Shots on target 5
Shots off target 8
Fouls committed 20
Shots on target 5
Shots off target 3
Taken from the Daily Record