Naismith pulls the Hearts strings as Jambos see off Partick Thistle
Steven Naismith pulled the strings as goal-shy Hearts burst into form with a 3-0 win over Partick Thistle.
The Jambos had scored just two goals in their previous four league outings and averaged less than a goal a game before breaking the shackles at Tynecastle.
They scored all three goals in a dominant first period, with Naismith setting up Kyle Lafferty before netting one himself and John Souttar added a third.
It was undoubtedly Naismith’s finest display in a Hearts shirt and he, along with Joaquim Adao, controlled the game against a poor Thistle side who remain deep in relegation trouble.
It was evident early on that the hosts were the better side as they adapted quickly to the cut-up Tynecastle surface that was made worse by the pre-match snow.
The Jambos started the game confidently and dominated possession with Naismith and Adao combining nicely and it was through those two that they took a deserved lead.
After 17 minutes of solid pressure, Adao slipped a low ball into the feet of Naismith and the on-loan forward backheeled into the path of Lafferty. The big striker raced clear of the defence before slotting confidently through the legs of Tomas Cerny for his 17th goal of the season.
The home team’s dominance was such that Thistle could have been down to 10 men inside the first 20 minutes, but Abdul Osman escaped a second yellow card in as many minutes for a foul on Danny Amankwaa before Naismith doubled the lead.
Again it was smart play from Adao that opened things up as the midfielder broke down the right and picked out Naismith inside him, and the forward tucked the ball away first time to give Craig Levein’s side a cushion.
Thistle grew into the game a bit more after the second goal, but they never posed a threat to goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin. The game was as good as over in the 44th minute when Souttar slid in to guide home a long throw from Michael Smith and open up a three-goal lead.
Alan Archibald made two substitutes at the break and changed the shape of his side, but it was to no avail as the second half went at a comparatively pedestrian pace compared with the first.
They were unable to fashion any openings as Hearts sat on their comfortable lead.
Miles Storey eventually tested McLaughlin with a couple of quickfire efforts but the goalkeeper was equal to them as the game fizzled out for a comfortable three points for Hearts.