Heart of Midlothian 2-1 Stenhousemuir
Wednesday 24th July 2019, KO 19:45 | Betfred Cup | Tynecastle Park
Hearts won 2-1 against Stenhousemuir in tonight’s Betfred Cup Group A encounter at Tynecastle.
Craig Halkett was the hero for the Jambos, with the summer signing netting twice in the last ten minutes to win the match after Stenny had taken a shock lead with 13 minutes to go through Mark McGuigan.
Craig Levein made three changes to the side that defeated Cowdenbeath last week, with returns to the starting line-up for John Souttar, Jamie Walker and Aaron Hickey, while Aidan White made the bench for the first time since signing for the club last season.
Hearts started brightly, and had their first chance via a counter attack. Conor Washington held the ball up for Jamie Walker who steered the ball wide to Michael Smith, with the full back crossing to the back post where Steven Maclean headed the ball off the post.
Souttar then drove into the Stenny area a minute later and fired the ball across goal but neither Washington nor Walker could divert the ball home.
Washington was involved a lot early doors, and he was involved again when a lovely passing move between Smith, Washington and Anthony McDonald saw Washington’s shot blocked, before Smith’s rebounded effort went wide.
Souttar then played a terrific ball through to Sean Clare, who laid the ball off for Smith but his shot was saved by Graeme Smith, before the rebound back to Clare was put over the bar, and Clare came close again prior to the interval when he made space at the edge of the area before his shot was pushed away by Smith.
Into the second half, and Smith denied Hearts again when he blocked a shot from Washington who had made space for himself with a neat turn, before Souttar tried his luck from distance and saw his shot palmed over the bar for a corner.
Moments later there was utter chaos in the Stenny area. Walker chipped the ball to the back post where MacLean saw his volley cleared off the line, before a series of events that saw Smith have a shot saved by his namesake, with Bozanic’s rebound also being saved, then Walker’s shot cleared off the line by Scott McLaughlin and then that rebound falling to Washington whose shot was also blocked by McLaughlin.
Hearts would be made to rue those missed chances when the visitors took the lead. Stenny broke on a counter attack and when Alan Cook received the ball on the left, his cross was met by Mark McGuigan who steered the ball home beyond Bobby Zlamal.
Hearts responded positively, however, and equalised five minutes later when pressure told from a set piece. Clare’s corner landed at the feet of Halkett, and the centre-half scored his second in two games after netting on his debut at Cowdenbeath.
In search of the winner, the manager sent Halkett up front to partner Uche Ikpeazu and Aidan Keena, both second half substitutes, and the change paid dividends three minutes from time when sub Jake Mulraney whipped in a pinpoint cross that Halkett met with a bullet header to send the Jambos top of Group A.
Hearts: Zlamal, M. Smith, Souttar, Bozanic, Clare, Washington (Keena, 59'), Walker, MacLean (Ikpeazu, 55'), McDonald (Mulraney, 55'), Halkett, Hickey. Subs: Doyle, White, Dikamona, Irving.
Stenhousemuir: Smith, McIlduff, McKernon (Watters, 83'), Marsh, McGuigan, Hopkirk, Cook, McLaughlin, M. Munro (Halleran, 63'), Scullion (Anderson, 90'), A. Munro. Subs: Marley, Luke, Daramola.
Referee: Alan Newlands