Danny Devine regained his place in defence after injury, with Joe Thomson dropping to the bench. Last week's left sided centre half, Jackson Longridge, moved back to his natural position at left wingback, with James Craigen shifting to his usual midfield role after playing at left wingback last week.
How on earth did we lose that? That was my immediate post-game reaction, as tweeted here minutes after the game ended. We saw a performance to be proud of from a Dunfermline side that looked every inch Premiership class, on top for long periods of the game, against a Hearts team that currently top the Premiership table and who defeated Celtic last weekend.
The Pars starting 11 could be seen as the strongest currently available. Tom Beadling, who is not yet fully match fit, would be a strong contender for a midfield slot. Every player in black and white made a positive contribution today.
A first half largely dominated by Dunfermline saw Faissal El Bakhtoaui hit the post with an angled shot, the closest we came to seeing a goal that the home side deserved. Hearts were being made to look ordinary - the energy, creativity and organisation in the Dunfermline side was of a level higher than we have seen for some time, spurred on by the tremendous atmosphere generated by both sets of supporters inside East End Park. For Hearts, the much-vaunted Uche Ikpeazu lurked on the periphery of the game, well-marshalled by Lee Ashcroft and his fellow central defenders.
The second half saw Hearts have more possession than they enjoyed in the opening 45, yet doing very little with the ball. It was Dunfermline who looked the more dangerous team, and Hearts were kept in the game by 2 acrobatic saves by their keeper Bobby Zlamal, firstly from a volley from Faissal after a great run and cross from Ryan Williamson; and then from a header by Danny Devine. In between those 2 efforts, Hearts scored the game's only goal, with their only serious on-target shot of the entire game. Olly Lee's shot found the net and put the Jambos ahead, undeservedly.
A late flurry from Dunfermline saw sub Aidan Connolly fail to convert a Williamson cross from close range, the ball then hitting off Faissal's legs and behind.
The final whistle blew to the sound of an appreciative home support: the team had done everything except score and had out-classed the top flight leaders. We need more days like this - the reward is there and we now have to push on and make that step up.
Ryan Williamson: what a contrast from last week! Storming runs up the wing and resolute in defence. My Man of the Match.
Jackson Longridge: a thunderous second half tackle showed his commitment - another good game from one of AJ's best signings.
Louis Longridge: King Louis was once again a classy figure in an attacking midfield role. Technically our best player.
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