Road victory for Wee Jambos

02 April 2023

Steven Naismith made two changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh University at Ferguson Park last weekend. Harry Stone returned in goal in place of Liam McFarlane and Callum Flatman returned to the starting XI following a lengthy spell on the side-lines, he replaced Aidan Denholm, who has joined East Fife on loan until the end of the season.

The Wee Jambos edged out the Black and White’s 2-1 when the sides met at Ferguson Park earlier in the season, so a close game was anticipated.

It was the home side who edged the early stages without testing Stone in the Hearts goal, but it was the men in maroon who opened the scoring with the first real opening of the match on 14 minutes. Arron Darge played a lovely diagonal ball to Adam Forrester, he got to the byline and his low cross was tapped home by Makenzie Kirk and in a flash, Gretna were opened up and Hearts were ahead.

Despite their bright start, the goal had put Hearts firmly in the ascendency and Callum Sandilands was inches away from doubling the lead just two minutes later, when his glancing header from Murray Thomas’ cross came back off the post.

The Wee Jambos continued to dominate proceedings as the half wore on and they had a strong penalty claim waved away after a Hearts cross was clearly blocked by the arm of a Gretna defender.

The second Hearts goal seemed an inevitability at this stage, and it arrived ten minutes before the interval. Luke Rathie wheeled away in celebration after flicking on Bobby McLuckie’s in swinging free kick and the men in maroon had breathing space at the break.

A third goal would’ve secured the points and it nearly arrived nine minutes after the break. Forrester was enjoying another impressive game at right back, and when he crossed for Luke Rathie, the defender’s effort was deflected over the bar, before seconds later, Forrester again delivered from the right and this time Darge, headed wide at the back post.

In truth, the second half had become a bit of a slog and the Wee Jambos were reduced to ten-men 17 minutes from time, for an off the ball incident involving Makenzie Kirk. After consulting his linesman, the referee brandished a red card in the direction of the Hearts forward.

The home side huffed and puffed after that but couldn’t find a way through as Hearts held on to secure a deserved three points on their travels.

Gretna 2008: Main, Caves, Condie, Dickinson ©, Moyles, Turner, Bell, Muir, Carmichael, Wilson, Trialist

Subs: Short, Duffy, Patterson, Osbourne, Munro, Higgins

Hearts: Stone, Watson, Flatman, Darge ©, Tait, Sandilands, Kirk, Thomas (Duncan, 46), Forrester, Rathie, McLuckie (Trialist, 71)

Subs: McFarlane, Smutek, Duncan, Hambrook, Trialist, Nair