Frankie Kent’s injury time header saw Hearts win 2-1 to book passage to the fifth round of the Scottish Cup against Spartans.
In a tricky cup tie at Ainslie Park, the Jambos were made to work against their League Two opposition after Kenneth Vargas’s early header was cancelled out by a sensational second-half volley from James Craigan.
But English defender Frankie Kent stepped up with his first goal for the club deep into stoppage time to see Hearts safely through to the next round.
There were a handful of changes to the side that beat Livingston at the start of the month. Beni Baningime returned to the line up, whilst Kenneth Vargas and Kyosuke Tagawa led the line in place of the ill Lawrence Shankland.
Hearts took the lead after 11 minutes. After enjoying the lion’s share of possession in the opening stanza, a fine Jorge Grant cross picked out a waiting Kenneth Vargas at the back post, with a well-placed header beating Blair Carswell.
Spartans almost had the game back on level terms after 22 minutes: a swooping free kick from the left found Callum Booth in space on the edge of the area. The defender unleashed a wicked attempt from distance, with Craig Gordon producing a fine save to tip it over the bar.
Moments later, Hearts advanced to the border of the Spartans area. Alan Forrest tried his luck with a low drive, with his strike a fraction too close to Carswell, allowing the Spartans stopper to save.
Hearts crafted a several further chances, the best of which saw Cochrane chip an excellent ball into the box. After a bit of a stramash, it fell to the feet of Kyosuke Tagawa – with the Japanese forward firing over.
HALF-TIME: Spartans 0-1 Heart of Midlothian
Spartans grabbed the equaliser after 63 minutes: a magnificent 20-yard volley from James Craigen beat Craig Gordon and had the men in maroon hunting for a second.
Hearts chipped away for the whole half, with Spartans showing real defensive grit right to the end. Balls kept getting whipped in, with no maroon takers until right to the end.
A fine Cochrane delivery saw the ball whipped onto the head of Kent, who leapt high to send a thumping header past Carswell.
Spartans: Carswell, Watson (Denholm 76’), Booth, Waugh, Tapping, Dishington (Russell 88’), Henderson (Brown 88’), Sonkur, Armstrong, Craigen, Whyte
Subs: McCready, Morrison, Jones, Brown, Russell, Denholm, Brown, Newman, Watson
Hearts: Gordon, Oda (Lembikisa 60’), Kent, Kingsley, Halkett, Cochrane, Baningime, Grant, Forrest, Vargas, Tagawa (Wilson 60’)
Subs: Clark, Niewuenhof, Denholm, Sibbick, Pollock, Tait, Sandilands, Lembikisa, Wilson