Football: Hearts will welcome the winter break

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The Independent Online
AS SCOTTISH football takes its first winter break, some clubs will welcome the rest more than others, writes David McKinney.

Kilmarnock, who beat Motherwell 2-1 on Friday, continue to defy logic with a sustained run in the Premier League, which has seen them claim second place behind Rangers. With their recent run of form Bobby Williamson, Killie's manager, would no doubt prefer to continue playing.

However, the break must be good news for Hearts. The Edinburgh club were in the same position as Kilmarnock last season before their League challenge faded, although they recovered sufficiently to win the Scottish Cup. But this season's collapse has left them two points ahead of Dundee United, the second bottom club, with Saturday's 0-0 draw against Dunfermline doing little to ease the gloom. The three-week break, however, should allow eight first-team players the chance to return to fitness, and the draw at least ended a four-game run of defeats.

Dunfermline are rooted at the bottom, having drawn 12 of their 22 games, but with just two victories the problems for Bert Paton, their manager, are obvious. Now he will have time to work out ways of increasing his side's goal-scoring potential.

Paul Hegarty's hopes of becoming Aberdeen's next manager suffered a severe dent with his side's 4-1 defeat at the hands of St Johnstone. He watched his players succumb to their first loss in his five games in caretaker charge.

The Dundee derby produced a welcome win for United, who moved to within a point of their city rivals thanks to a 3-1 success in a game dominated by the home side.

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