Arabs and Jambos share spoils

A glorious late strike by substitute Arvydas Novikovas gave Hearts a 2-2 draw in their SPL clash with Dundee United at Tannadice.

Last Updated: 28/04/12 at 16:29

Flood: Put United ahead

Flood: Put United ahead

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United took the lead in the 32nd minute when midfielder Willo Flood fired in a powerful 35-yard drive but three minutes later the visitors were level through a Rudi Skacel header.

In the 65th minute Gary Mackay-Steven regained the lead for United when he drove in from the edge of the box and it looked like Peter Houston's men would go on and complete the clean sweep over the Jambos this season.

However, the Tynecastle side came back strongly in the final stages and with seven minute remaining, Novikovas, on four minutes earlier for Andrew Driver, levelled with a powerful drive from 25 yards to send the Gorgie fans in the crowd of 7,001 home happy.

It was the William Hill Scottish Cup finalists who had the first chance in the third minute when a Danny Grainger corner from the right evaded the grasping hands of United keeper Dusan Pernis but right-back Ryan McGowan missed the target with his close-range header at the back post.

It took a few minutes but the home side began to warm to the task but even then it was hardly an all-out assault on the Gorgie goal.

Tynecastle keeper Jamie MacDonald made saves from United skipper Jon Daly and striker Johnny Russell while Hearts midfielder Darren Barr was given a yellow card by referee Willie Collum for fouling Mackay-Steven, after the United wide-man had entertained the home fans with some lovely footwork as he sped past McGowan and Suso Santana.

Hearts striker Craig Beattie came off injured on the half-hour mark to be replaced by Stephen Elliott but the visitors had more to be worried about in the 32nd minute when they found themselves behind to a wonderful strike by Flood.

McGowan's headed clearance in the right-back position skewed into the middle of the park where the Irishman took a touch before rifling a powerful right-footed drive past McDonald and into the corner of the net for his first goal of the season.

Three minutes later, though, Hearts were level and this time McGowan made a positive contribution.

The Australian defender's deep cross from the right appeared to be inadvertently headed back across his own goal by United defender Robbie Neilson as he challenged with Elliott, and the unmarked Jambos midfielder simply planted his header in to the far corner from 10 yards out.

A minute from the interval Barr came close with a 25-yard drive which went just past the post, before Suso's drive was blocked by the leg of United stopper Garry Kenneth, as the Edinburgh side finished the half strongly.

The tempo dipped again at the start of the second-half but in the 55th minute, after United midfielder John Rankin had fouled Suso 25 yards from goal, Pernis had to stretch high to his left to tip Grainger's goal-bound free-kick over the bar.

From Ian Black's corner, Jambos skipper Marius Zaliukas had a free header but knocked the ball over the bar from six yards out.

Hearts were the more positive side and in the 61st minute Pernis was called into action again, making a good save from Skacel's header after Driver had planted a cross onto the midfielder's head after reaching the bye-line.

However, against the run of play United regained the lead in the 64th minute through Mackay-Steven with a goal that owed much to poor defending by the visitors.

Flood's driven corner from the right was allowed to go all the way across the box to the Scotland under-21 player whose less than convincing shot sneaked past a couple of maroon jerseys and in at the far post.

The goal appeared to deflate the Gorgie side and it was United who pushed forward looking to stretching their lead.

But in the 79th minute Hearts had a great chance to level when Suso played in David Templeton, on for McGowan, but the Gorgie substitute clipped the bar with his shot from 12 yards.

However, battling Hearts were not to be denied and Novikovas became the Gorgie hero when he levelled with a thunderous drive which gave Pernis no chance.

There was time for Rankin to turn and drive wide of MacDonald's right-hand post from 12 yards but a point apiece was probably fair reward for both sides.

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