Hearts end our season
Our season looked over inside ten minutes after Mackay-Steven ran at the defence before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner as the defenders backed off. McEneff doubled the lead with the aid of a deflection in the ninth minute to nestle the ball in the bottom corner again. Mackay-Steven notched his second as he poked his leg in between Deas and Ridgers to kill the game with half an hour gone. The second half was an anti-climax for both sides with no further scoring, and with results elsewhere our challenge has come to an end.
After the disappointing draw with Dundee in midweek, our destiny was in the hands of others. All we can do is gather points and hope that others can lend a helping hand by taking points of Dunfermline and Dundee as we visit Tynecastle to take on Champions Hearts. All games kick-off at 3:00pm on Saturday, it's a massive day of football in the Championship.
Scott Allardice was cleared to play in this one but Brad Mckay was suspended after the disciplinary committee met on Friday to decide the outcome of the red cards against Dundee. In came Cameron Harper at left back with Miles Storey starting. Roddy MacGregor and Shane Sutherland would be the impact players on the bench.
Jamie Walker was not involved at Cappielow and Raith bound Cristophe Berra was also missing. Young defender Harry Cochrane has not signed a new contract and none of them would feature against Inverness. Neilson has twelve players out of contract this summer. Mackay-Steven came back into the side with Naismith and Henderson on the bench.
A sunny Tynecastle was echoing with the disturbed sound of silence as The Caley Jags clapped the Champions onto the park as this covid restricted game kicked off with no fans in attendance.
Scott Allardice had a shot deflected for a corner in the first minute and from the resultant cut back corner Scott Allan almost opened the scoring, his shot just clearing the bar.
Ridgers gathered a header from Gnaduillet but moments later Mackay-Steven was allowed to run at the defence unchallenged before drilling a superb low shot behind Ridgers. The lead was doubled when a slight deflection took the ball out of the keepers reach and right in the bottom corner, McEneff the one with the strike.
Gnaduillet almost got on the end of a great Haring cross to the back post as Hearts continued to dominate midway through the half, the ball getting knocked out for a goal kick as Ridgers and his defence closed him down.
Game over with half an hour gone when Deas and Ridgers got in a fankle and Mackay-Steven prodded the ball into the net as the keeper came to collect and Deas tried to usher. Nightmare half hour from the Caley Jags!
Ridgers saved from McEneff as Hearts threatened to run riot and the same two were involved before the interval as Hearts cigared it.
Half Time: 3-0
Roddy MacGregor replaced Scott Allardice at the break and Toddy forced Craig Gordon into a save as he shot from wide right, the keeper saving without spilling.
Despite a spirited second half showing especially from young substitute Arran Lyall the visitors failed to get a foothold in the game with Hearts looking more likely to add to their tally.
A tidy twisting run forward by Scott Allan ended with a stabbed shot which Gordon gathered comfortably with around ten minutes left.
Full Time: 3-0
In truth, we huffed and puffed while Hearts went through the motions without inflicting any further damage.
So a late run on the stand side ended at Tynecastle as we fell short of reaching our target of a play off slot. Them's the breaks and it was a familiar scenario of too little too late.
On the plus side, there's only one more preview and report to go...
From BBC Sport
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson: "Delighted, delighted. It's been a tough season for everyone. I'm delighted for the players. "I thought we were great. I'm really pleased with the performance. The game really suited Gary. It was a bit more open and expansive and you see the real Gary Mackay-Steven."
Inverness CT interim manager Neil McCann: "We were much better in the second half. That's to be expected because we were so unlike ourselves. I lost my cool. Frustration boiled over. I shouldn't have done that. "Sore one. I feel really sorry for everybody connected to the club. We've just come up short."
⚽️ The goals from Hearts' Championship match against Inverness CT ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/TlyTuFKhrD— Heart of Midlothian FC (@JamTarts) April 24, 2021