Victory for Wee Jambos against Rangers22 December 2022
Steven Naismith made four changes to the side that drew with Spartans a fortnight ago. Harry Stone, Finlay Pollock, Murray Thomas and Kenzi Nair replaced Liam McFarlane, Leo Watson, the suspended Arron Darge and the injured Callum Sandilands.
Torrential rainfall in the hours leading up to kick-off meant that by the time the players took to the field, the pitch had taken a real soaking.
The Wee Jambos were unfortunate not to take three points when the sides met at Ferguson Park back in October, so they would have travelled West with confidence of taking points off the Lowland League leaders.
Hearts set up in their usual back three system with Bobby McLuckie and Murray Thomas capable of bombing forward from wingback. Into midfield and possession was the key with Macaulay Tait, Aidan Denholm, Harry Gordon and Finlay Pollock all very confident in possession and looking to feed Mackenzie Kirk up front.
The men in maroon had started well and took a deserved lead through Kirk after 18 minutes when he fired home from the edge of the box.
The confidence was flowing through the team at this point and the second goal arrived from a corner just three minutes later. Luke Rathie got across the front post and flicked in Murray Thomas’ low corner to double the Hearts advantage.
Rangers simply could not live with Hearts and the third goal arrived 12 minutes before the interval. Hearts won possession high up the pitch, which had been the story of the first half, Denholm cheekily slipped in McLuckie and he lashed the ball past Budinauckas to send Hearts down the tunnel with a 3-0 lead.
Into the second half, the home side were always going to throw the kitchen sink at Hearts in the early stages and they got their route back into the game on 51 minutes. Following a Rangers corner, a scramble ensued, and the ball was eventually bundled in by Arron Lyall.
From that point, a Rangers onslaught was expected, but it did not really materialise as the Wee Jambos stuck to their pressing game plan.
The home side did halve the deficit in the final minute of the match. Hearts were waiting for an offside flag that did not arrive and Ross McCausland curled the ball past Stone.
It was not enough for the Gers however as Hearts survived the final moments to record a fantastic away victory.
Rangers: Budinauckas, Harkness, Fraser ©, Allan, Yfeko, Strachan, Lovelace, Lindsay, Ure, Lyall, McCausland
Subs: Pazikas, K. Ewen, Allen, Webster, Rice, Pasnik, Young
Hearts: Stone, Tait, Pollock (Ross, 90), Denholm ©, Kirk, Thomas, Gordon, Forrester, Rathie, McLuckie, Nair
Subs: McFarlane, Smutek, Duncan, Ross, Crookston, Friel