Hearts B suffered their first Lowland League defeat of the season on Friday night as they fell to a 2-1 defeat against Cowdenbeath at Ainslie Park.
Liam Fox made two changes from the side that defeated Albion Rovers last weekend as Luke Rathie returned from suspension to replace Kai Smutek in defence, meanwhile Harry Gordon replaced the injured Murray Thomas in midfield.
There was an early Hearts chance inside two minutes as Bobby McLuckie sprung the offside trap and was sent clear down the left channel. Craig Hepburn in the Cowden goal came out to meet him and after McLuckie knocked the ball past him, he was wiped out by the stopper, who received an early yellow card.
Up the other end, Liam McFarlane was about to begin a busy 45 minutes. The Hearts keeper enjoyed a number of individual battles against various members of the Blue Brazil’s attack.
Jamie Docherty was first to be denied, after he chopped inside on the left-hand side of the box and curled a right-footed shot towards the far corner which was clawed away by McFarlane.
The Hearts number one produced two further quick-fire saves after twelve minutes, firstly denying Lucas Berry, before again denying Docherty moments later.
The visitors got the opener their start had deserved on 26 minutes. A wicked delivery from the left was expertly diverted into the far corner from the head of Josh Jack.
Four minutes later, McFarlane was again on hand, this time denying Zac Butterworth. The Cowden number seven cut inside two Hearts defenders and he must’ve thought his effort was about to find the bottom corner, but the Wee Jambos' keeper sprung to his right to deny him in superb fashion.
McFarlane was beaten just three minutes later; however, the crossbar came to the men in maroon’s aid. Clearly full of confidence after his header, Jack tried his luck from inside the centre circle after spotting McFarlane off his line, his audacious effort came back off the crossbar as the Wee Jambos survived a big scare.
The men in maroon had been up against it for the majority of the first half but they managed to level the scores five minutes before the break. James Wilson made ground down the left and his low cross was tapped home at the back post by Bailey Dall.
Half-time: Hearts B 1-1 Cowdenbeath
Into the second half, the Blue Brazil were given the perfect opportunity to restore their lead, four minutes after the restart. Liam McFarlane was penalised for a foul on Jack and up stepped Docherty to send McFarlane the wrong way and put the visitors back in front.
Hearts had a lot of possession in the second half, but they struggled to create many clear-cut openings until the final five minutes.
Rocco Friel hadn’t been allowed as much freedom as he would’ve liked to get forward, but when his cross found Makenzie Kirk at the back post, the Wee Jambos were almost level, but his header flew just wide of the far post.
In stoppage time, Kirk came even closer. Some neat build-up play on the edge of the Cowdenbeath box saw the Hearts number nine get a shot away but from point-blank range Hepburn came up big to keep the visitors lead intact
The Blue Brazil were reduced to ten men in the final minute of the match as Andrew Rodden was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident, however Cowden saw out the remaining seconds to leave Ainslie Park with all three points.
Hearts: McFarlane, Dall, McLuckie (Stevenson, 58), Wilson, Sandilands, Kirk, Gordon (Crookston, 73), Nair, Duncan (Ross, 58), Rathie, Friel
Subs: McConnell, Stevenson, Drysdale, Ross, Crookston, Gillies
Speaking to the Official Hearts Website at full-time, manager Liam Fox said:
“We just didn’t get going tonight and we deserved nothing from the game.
“I have to give credit to Cowdenbeath. They came out and were aggressive. They made us defend and tonight, we didn’t stand up to that.
“This is a stark reminder to the players that if you don’t put the work in you can end up on the end of a poor result and that’s what happened to us tonight.
“We have no complaints about the result tonight. It was a very disappointing result for us."