Hearts B kicked off their Lowland League campaign in emphatic fashion on Friday night as they thrashed Gretna 2008 7-0 at Ainslie Park.
The men in maroon were given a boost before kick-off as Makenzie Kirk had shrugged off a slight knock sustained in the midweek friendly with Broxburn to lead the line. With a big crowd in attendance, it would’ve been easy for the Wee Jambos to be nervous before kick-off, but they showed no signs of nerves and raced into a 2-0 lead in the opening ten minutes. The pre-match rain ensured it was a slick Ainslie Park surface and Callum Sandilands’ excellent weight of pass sent Bobby McLuckie through on goal, it was a tight angle, but the winger finished with aplomb to put the Wee Jambos ahead after six minutes. No more than a minute later and it was 2-0. Some nice play on the edge of the box saw Kirk find space in the box and he made no mistake as he lashed the ball past Charlie Cowie in the Gretna goal. Hearts were dealt a blow five minutes later, as Murray Thomas was forced off with an injury, he was replaced by Gus Stevenson. The change didn’t interrupt the Wee Jambos flow however, and there was no let up for the visitors who struggled to maintain possession under a very intense Hearts press. The men in maroon had joy out wide all game, with McLuckie on the left and James Wilson on the right, both were always available for a pass and were intent on running at their full back whenever they received the ball. The Wee Jambos were in full control and Wilson almost added a third, five minutes before the interval, but his low shot flew just wide. Manager Liam Fox would’ve been eager to see a similar beginning to the second period as the first and that is exactly what the boss got as Kirk grabbed his second, four minutes after the break. The Hearts forward had come close moments earlier, when being thwarted by Cowie, however there was nothing the Gretna stopper could do this time as Kirk brought the ball down and lashed it into the roof of the net to secure the points. The next thing Kirk would secure would be the match ball as he added a fourth just four minutes later. Wilson again, had the beating of his man out wide and his cross was bundled home from close range by Kirk. It was looking like a long second half for the visitors and the Wee Jambos added a fifth on the hour mark. An inviting corner from the left missed everyone at the front post as the ball bounced off Kirk from no more than a few yards to make it 5-0. With 20 minutes still on the clock, Hearts added a sixth, as McLuckie grabbed his second of the evening. Rocco Friel had impressed at right back, and it was his deep cross that picked out McLuckie ghosting in unmarked at the back post to fire the ball past Cowie at his near post.
The seventh and final goal of the evening, arrived nine minutes from time, courtesy of Sandilands. Kirk was again involved with the layoff, but the technique from the Hearts number 9 was exquisite. The strike was going in from the moment it left his boot and Cowie was rooted to the spot as the ball arrowed into the bottom corner to round off a perfect opening day for the men in maroon.
Hearts: McFarlane, Dall, McLuckie, Wilson (Ross, 62), Sandilands (Chisholm, 81), Kirk, Thomas (Stevenson, 13), Gordon (Duncan, 62), Nair, Rathie ©, Friel (Drysdale, 81) Subs: Trialist, Stevenson, Drysdale, Duncan, Ross, Smutek, Chisholm Gretna: Cowie, Short, Simpson, Caffrey, Riley ©, Potts, Ivison, Armstrong, Dixon, Trialist, Neill Subs: Trialist, Trialist, Cumming, Trialist