Heart of Midlothian 3-1 Aberdeen
Monday 25th February 2019, KO 14:00 | Reserve Cup | Oriam
Hearts are through to the SPFL Reserve Cup Final after defeating Aberdeen 3-1 at Oriam.
Connor Smith got the Jambos in front before David Dangana levelled from the spot, but a goal in either half from Ryan Edwards booked Andy Kirk’s side place in the competition’s final.
The visitors were first to threaten when a cross into the Hearts box was headed goalwards by Morgan Brown but Kevin Silva expertly tipped the ball over the bar.
It was the Jambos who broke the deadlock after a quarter of an hour. Smith got on the end of Edwards’ through ball to take a touch into the box before slotting underneath David Craddock in the Aberdeen goal.
The lead lasted five minutes when the Dons were given a penalty. Silva chased a long ball to the edge of the box but collided with Dangana and, despite protests from the Hearts bench, the referee pointed to the spot. Dangana dusted himself down to send Silva the wrong way and restore parity.
The Jambos then settled into the game and took control of proceedings. Smith saw an effort saved by Craddock at his near post, before Craig Wighton glanced a header from Aaron Hickey’s cross just wide.
Kirk’s side kept up the pressure with Smith’s shot from inside the box being deflected narrowly wide, then Andrew Irving turned his man inside the area but could only lift his powerful effort over the bar.
A second Hearts goal finally came on the stroke of half time. Craddock showed indecision on the ball and ended up passing straight to Edwards, who made no mistake in slotting beyond the despairing goalkeeper.
The second-half started slowly, with only half chances falling to both Wighton and Sam Roscoe.
The men in maroon were in control, however, and started to pepper the Aberdeen goal.
Irving hit a stunning first-time left-foot volley from 18-yards that Craddock did brilliantly to turn over the bar, before repeating the feat and denying Lewis Moore after the winger had weaved his way into the Dons box and pulled the trigger.
Wighton showed great tenacity to win the ball ahead of Roscoe and get into the box but Craddock was quick off his line to make a last-ditch tackle.
Craddock was called into action again when substitute Euan Henderson tore down the right and cut inside the slam an effort on target but the Aberdeen keeper got down well to make the block.
It was game over with 15 minutes remaining. Wighton sent a cleared corner back into the Dons’ box and Edwards got enough on it to steer the ball into the back of the net.
Aberdeen were reduced to ten men deep into stoppage time when Ethan Ross was shown a straight red for a wild lunge on Hamilton.
That was the last action of the game as Hearts booked their place in the competition’s final, where they will meet Motherwell, venue and date to be confirmed.
Hearts: Silva, Logan, Hickey, Petkov, Hamilton (c), Ritchie, Edwards, Irving, Wighton, Smith (Henderson, 72'), Moore.
Subs: Mason, Sandison, Ward, Zanatta, Makorova, Nwanze.
Aberdeen: Craddock, Harrington, MacKenzie, Campbell (c) (Barron, 77'), Power, Roscoe (Turner, 77'), Brown, Virtanen, Dangana, E Ross, Antoniazzi (Duncan 67).
Subs: Mair, Robertson, Shanks, Barry.
Referee: Peter Stuart