Hearts romp to the Scottish Championship title stepped up a gear this past weekend with a 10-0 thumping of Cowdenbeath. It really was a game of men vs. boys as Robbie Neilson’s side ripped apart their opposition with ease and grace. Goals from Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker and a three minute hat trick from Genro Zeefuik sent Hearts into half time with a five goal lead. Shell shocked Cowdenbeath manager Jimmy Nicholl tried to rally his troops in a attempted damage limitation exercise but his words of wisdom fell on deaf ears with the Blue Brazil shipping a further five goals after the restart. Strikes from Morgaro Gomis, Alim Ozturk and Danny Wilson plus a brace from Osman Sow completed the rout and handed Cowdenbeath their heaviest loss in its 134 year history. The dismissal of defender Lewis Toshney early on in the match hardly helped the situation for Cowdenbeath but in truth Hearts were simply unstoppable on the day.
Long before the season began; bookies and pundits alike had Glasgow side Rangers as firm favourites to win the league with Edinburgh rivals Hearts and Hibernian slugging it out for second spot. But due in part to off field chaos at Ibrox, Rangers have stuttered along and now look increasingly less likely to make the final step back to the Scottish Premiership. Hibs meanwhile under former Everton and Celtic centre half Alan Stubbs are a team in transition and it now looks apparent that they will battle Rangers for second spot with the Edinburgh club currently holding the advantage. Rangers and Hibs loss is Hearts gain who simply have been unstoppable this season. Having bounced back marvelously from their own financial woes under the new ownership of Ann Budge, Neilson and Director of football Craig Levein have used the distractions coming out of Glasgow at Rangers to their advantage by steadily building a squad of strength and talent to compete not only in the Championship this season but with a view to the same team competing next season back in the Premiership. After all a return to the top flight is not the only thing on Levein and Budge’s mind – they wish to remain there for the foresable future.
With the squad as it is, Hearts should be able to compete effectively back in the Premiership, granted they get there first. Despite relatively low transfer funds, Neilson has constructed a strong squad by combining existing talent with new inexpensive imports. Working alongside Levein, a true definition of what a Director of Football should be, Neilson brought in ten players in the summer all on free transfers. In came goalkeepers Neil Alexander and Scott Gallacher, defenders Adam Eckersley and Alim Ozturk, midfielders Morgaro Gomis, Miguel Pallardo and Prince Buaben and strikers Osman Sow, James Keatings and Soufian El Hassnaoui to add strength and depth to the current squad. But it was the addition of former PSV and Groningen striker Genero Zeefuik in January 2015 on loan that has added the cutting edge to Hearts recent form. The tall Dutch striker has been in sensational form netting eight times in seven games so far and is loving life in the Scottish capital.
With ten games left to play, including an Edinburgh derby game against Hibs and two matches against Rangers, the title is far from won but Hearts will know that they only need 16 points to make it so. With Hibs 20 points behind and Rangers a further four points adrift (albeit with three games in hand) it would be foolish for anyone to believe that Hearts won’t win the title by a easy canter. If they can continue the momentum they have built in recent weeks, the title could be heading to Tynecastle Stadium sooner rather than later.
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