Match Report: Hearts 2-1 Stoke City

23 July 2022

A crowd of 7,789 turned out to honour Gary at Tynecastle and they were treated to a first-half strike by the new Hearts number 9 before he doubled his tally late on. Tyrese Campbell responded for Stoke minutes later, but it was too little too late for the visitors.

A start was handed to new signing Shankland, while there was also a first Tynecastle appearance for Kye Rowles with Craig Halkett marking his first start since the Scottish Cup Final in May.

The opening stages saw Hearts dominate the ball, creating the game’s first chance on 12 minutes. Barrie McKay’s corner was headed clear but only as far as Alan Forrest 25-yards out, he took a touch before blasting an effort just wide of Joe Bursik’s right-hand post.

The woodwork came to Stoke’s rescue just before the 20-minute mark. Alex Cochrane whipped a corner into the six-yard box for Stephen Kingsley to meet but his bullet header came crashing back off of the crossbar, with Peter Haring unable to get to the follow up.

Stoke fashioned a half-chance of their own a few minutes later after a quick breakaway saw Josh Tymon tear down Nathaniel Atiknson’s right-hand side but his cross was too high for Jacob Brown, who skimmed a header well wide of the target.

The Jambos almost undone themselves after half an hour, giving the ball away and allowing a cross from the Wheatfield side to make its way through the box before Brown fired over the bar.

With five minutes of the half remaining the deadlock was nearly broken. Cochrane got down the left and his cross found McKay in space but his shot was deflected behind.

Cochrane was in the thick of it moments later, again tearing down the left to middle for Shankland, who slid in to get a touch on the ball ahead of Bursik but he could only steer it into the side net.

The opening goal finally did come and it was exactly what Hearts deserved. A bit of good fortune kept the ball in play down by the corner flag, allowing Atkinson to carry it into the box before picking out Forrest, whose shot slammed into the path of Shankland and the striker expertly diverted it beyond Bursik and into the back of the net.

Half time: Hearts 1-0 Stoke City

Neither side elected to make half-time changes and the Jambos picked up where they left off as they continued to take the game to the English Championship side at every opportunity. 

Robbie Neilson introduced Liam Boyce and Jorge Grant on the hour mark in place of Forrest and Haring, whilst the visitors introduced new signings Dwight Gayle and Will Smallbone.

Gayle was handed an opportunity on 68 minutes when Clarke pounced on a loose ball down the right. He cut it back for the former Newcastle front-man, however, his first time finish curled wide of the far post. 

Moments later, Hearts broke at speed up the other end as McKay released Shankland into the box but his low drive was blocked by Bursik in the Stoke goal.

With 15 minutes to go, Scotland's no.1 produced a great save to deny Josh Tymon who had been played in behind by a fine crossfield-ball.

Shankland nearly grabbed his second on 82 minutes as he pounced on a Boyce pass inside the box but the keeper's outstretched leg denied him.

A few minutes later, a sharp turn by substitute Gary Mackay-Steven saw him escape his marker inside the box but the keeper palmed away his powerful effort. 

Shankland's persistence paid off with minutes to go, however, as some excellent work by substitute Finlay Pollock saw him teed up in the box. His first effort was blocked but he responsed with a subslime finish on the second attempt to make it 2-0.

Shortly after, a swift breakway saw Stoke pull one back with Tyrese Campbell converting from close range. The full-time whistle blew shortly after as the Jambos wrapped up their pre-season with a victory at Tynecastle.

Next up, the league opener against Ross County. 

Hearts: Gordon, M. Smith (Pollock '80), Kingsley (Halliday '75), Halkett (Sibbick '75), Haring (Grant '60), Shankland, Atkinson, Rowles, Forrest (Boyce '60), McKay (Mackay-Steven '75), Cochrane. Subs: Stewart, Logan.

Stoke City: Bursik, Clark, Jagielka, Baker, Brown (Smallbone '60), Campbell, Tymon, Wilmot, Kilkenny (Gayle '60), Laurent (Clucas '65), Taylor. Subs: Bonham, Fox, Flint, McCarron, Wright-Phillips, Sparrow.

Referee: Nick Walsh