fbpx Skip to main content

Hearts edged closer to clinching third place in the cinch Premiership following a goalless draw with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

The visitors struck the woodwork twice in the first half but would find chances hard to come by after the break.

Zander Clark produced a brilliant save in the final minute to deny Marley Watkins, who also had a claim for a penalty waved away.

The Jambos remain 11 points ahead of Killie, who extended their advantage in fourth place to nine points.

Clark returned between the sticks for the visitors, replacing Craig Gordon who was preferred in Hearts’ last two outings.

Kilmarnock started well and Stuart Findlay glanced just over the bar with only 70 seconds on the clock.

Matty Kennedy had an effort deflected away for a corner and Liam Polworth fired wide of the target as the hosts continued to look the more likely.

The chances continue to come for Killie, with Kennedy sending a curling shot just too high, then a vital intervention from Frankie Kent steered Danny Armstrong’s teasing cross to safety.

Derek McInnes’ side almost paid the price for their lack of cutting edge on 23 minutes. Kenneth Vargas combined with Lawrence Shankland before bursting clear and crashing a left-footed drive against the underside of the crossbar.

It required a brilliant point-blank stop from Will Dennis to prevent Jorge Grant breaking the deadlock with eight minutes left in the first half.

Just seconds later, the Jambos struck the woodwork again as Cammy Devlin sent a curling effort beyond the keeper and against the frame of the goal.

Steven Naismith was forced to turn to his bench on the stroke of half-time after Beni Baningime went down off the ball and had to be replaced by Macaulay Tait.

Chances were at a premium at the beginning of the second half. McInnes introduced Brad Lyons in an effort to bolster his midfield, resulting in both teams scrapping it out in the middle of the park.

Dennis made two smart stops to keep out Grant after the midfielder was set through on goal by Shankland – who also went close when he tried his luck from the edge of the box.

The home side made a triple change with 13 minutes left on the clock as they looked to grab a victory that would all but secure fourth place in the table.

Referee Ross Hardie consulted VAR when Watkins hit the deck inside the box, however, a quick check saw play waved on.

In the final minute of added time, Clark was forced into action as he batted the ball away after Watkins met Kevin van Veen’s cut-back – ensuring the game ended goalless.