Match ends, Hearts 2, Ross County 0.
Heart of Midlothian 2-0 Ross County
Dale Carrick's late goal ensured that relegated Hearts defeated Ross County to increase the Dingwall side's own fears of dropping to the Championship.
That was despite Jamie Hamill being dismissed for a second yellow card.
Hamill hammered in a penalty on 65 minutes but was sent off before play could resume again.
The midfielder provoked a touchline tussle which involved County boss Derek Adams, while Carrick scored on the break in stoppage time.
Hearts took a massive step towards exiting administration on Wednesday when creditors in Lithuania agreed to transfer shares owned by Ukio Bankas and a good week for the Edinburgh club ended with a third win in four games.
As supporters basked in the Gorgie sunshine, Ryan Stevenson curled an early effort just over.
County keeper Mark Brown then had to be alert to rush from his goal and clear the ball as Carrick raced after a Billy King pass.
The visitors were often comfortable in possession but struggled to make an impression in the final third.
From a rare Staggies opening, midfielder Michael Tidser dragged a half-volley wide of Jamie MacDonald's goal from 18 yards.
Filip Kiss went much closer when a Nicholson clearance from a corner cannoned off the Hungarian's head and looped just over the crossbar.
Hearts had a great opportunity go ahead four minutes after the restart but defender Brad McKay got himself in a tangle in his attempt to head a Kevin McHattie free-kick in from close range.
Hamill then picked up his first yellow card for felling Tidser in a central position 25 yards from goal.
County captain Richard Brittain took the free-kick but his effort flew straight into the arms of MacDonald.
Nicholson was again busy for Hearts when he found space inside the box after exchanging passes with King but the winger's effort was blocked by Yann Songo'o.
And a previously tame game burst into life when Hamill scored from the penalty spot and was shown a second yellow card seconds later.
Having converted the spot-kick, the experienced midfielder ran down the touchline and irritated the visitors by refusing to give the ball back. Songo'o led the complaints with Hamill, who then barged visiting manager Adams over in the technical area.
Referee Willie Collum gave Hamill a second booking and also cautioned Songo'o for his part in the melee.
Brittain came close to bringing County level but his shot on the bounce flew just over the bar from 18 yards.
Hearts substitute Scott Robinson then drew a fantastic save from Brown after being found in the box by Carrick.
With Tidser prompting play from midfield, County's best chance fell in the final minutes as they piled on the pressure but Jordan Slew could only head over from close range.
And Hearts wrapped up the win deep into injury time when Robinson fed the unmarked Carrick inside the box and the forward lifted a shot high into the net.
- 2HamillBooked at 70mins
- 28NicholsonSubstituted forSmithat 77'minutes
- 7StevensonSubstituted forWalkerat 58'minutes
- 19KingSubstituted forRobinsonat 73'minutes
- 2CikosBooked at 26mins
- 28Songo'oBooked at 69minsSubstituted forMcLeanat 85'minutes
- 8BrittainBooked at 81mins
- 12TidserSubstituted forCooperat 77'minutes
- 10QuinnSubstituted forSaundersat 84'minutes
- William Collum
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Hearts 2, Ross County 0.
Goal! Hearts 2, Ross County 0. Dale Carrick (Hearts) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Scott Robinson.
Foul by Jason Holt (Hearts).
Graham Carey (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Jordan Slew (Ross County) header from very close range is just a bit too high.
Substitution, Ross County. Brian McLean replaces Yann Songo'o.
Substitution, Ross County. Steven Saunders replaces Rocco Quinn.
Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Richard Brittain (Ross County).
Substitution, Ross County. Alex Cooper replaces Michael Tidser.
Substitution, Hearts. David Smith replaces Sam Nicholson.
Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Mark Brown.
Attempt saved. Scott Robinson (Hearts) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Scott Boyd.
Substitution, Hearts. Scott Robinson replaces Billy King.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Kevin McHattie.
Second yellow card to Jamie Hamill (Hearts).
Yann Songo'o (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.
Goal! Hearts 1, Ross County 0. Jamie Hamill (Hearts) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the high centre of the goal.
Penalty Hearts. Kevin McHattie draws a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty conceded by Graham Carey (Ross County) after a foul in the penalty area.
Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Rocco Quinn.
Attempt saved. Graham Carey (Ross County) left footed shot from long range on the right is saved in the top right corner.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Jason Holt.
Foul by Kevin McHattie (Hearts).
Yann Songo'o (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Hearts. Jamie Walker replaces Ryan Stevenson.
Attempt saved. Richard Brittain (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Callum Paterson (Hearts) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Callum Paterson (Hearts).
Michael Tidser (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Jamie Hamill (Hearts) is shown the yellow card.
Attempt missed. Sam Nicholson (Hearts) right footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the right.
Second Half begins Hearts 0, Ross County 0.
First Half ends, Hearts 0, Ross County 0.
Attempt saved. Callum Paterson (Hearts) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.
Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Richard Brittain.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Brad McKay.
Attempt missed. Michael Tidser (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.