Heart of Midlothian 5-0 Greenock Morton
Monday 11th February 2019, KO 14:00 | League | Oriam
A strong Hearts reserves side put Morton to the sword in a game that saw Aidan Keena score a hat-trick to celebrate scoring his first goal for the first team.
It was a comfortable first-half for the Jambos with Morton only registering one shot on goal. Andy Kirk’s side attacked frequently, flowing through the gears to pepper Brendan Pearson’s goal with shots.
The goal-scoring got underway early when David Vanecek netted in the fifth minute. Andy Irving played a lovely cross-field ball to wing-back Bobby Burns and the Northern Irishman cut inside before being taken down in the box. Play went on and Vanecek picked up, firing across the keeper and into the bottom corner.
Keena added his name to the scoresheet eight minutes later. Once again, a ball to the left found the on-rushing Burns and he skipped past his man before being fouled. The referee played advantage and Keena picked up, firing an effort towards goal. It bobbled awkwardly in front of Pearson and evaded him, bouncing into the net.
Hearts continued to create chances and were firm favourites for the next goal. Andy Irving and Harry Cochrane were pulling the strings in the midfield superbly and it was the former who found Ben Garuccio – playing as a right wing-back – at the back post. The Aussie cut it back for Keena and this time Pearson was equal to it.
The game also saw the return of Craig Wighton, who is recovering from an ankle injury picked up in December. He was the next to go close, after a fantastic cross from Bobby Burns was flicked on by Vanecek at the front post. Wighton stretched for it and his touch went just inches wide.
Everyone was fancying a pop at goal, with centre-backs Chris Hamilton and Dan Baur venturing into nose-bleed territory as both saw efforts go past the post. The latter even hit the post after Vanecek’s header was parried by Pearson straight to the defender.
The Czech striker would continue to go close and missed the chance of the game. Cochrane played in Wighton on the right and he tapped it round the keeper to try and fire home from a narrow angle. Vanecek looked set to tap it home but fired it against the crossbar from a yard out – thankfully, he would make amends just a few minutes later.
The big target man finally got the third goal in the 40th minute. Cochrane found Garuccio on the right, and the 23-year-old skipped past the defender before cutting back for the Czech. Vanecek powered his effort at goal and it squeezed past Pearson before being hooked away, but the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Hearts continued to create chance after chance at the start of the second-half. Substitute Henderson was played in by a Vanecek header and then he played in Burns but neither could properly test Pearson.
However, he was tested not long later after Irving’s cross was flicked on by Keena, but the Irishman was denied by a super diving save. The resulting corner was then headed into the side netting by Chris Hamilton, who was wearing the captain’s armband.
The Jambos were dominating the game and dominating the set pieces, looking a constant threat from corners and free-kicks. Cochrane’s delivery was dangerous and Dikamona put a free header wide of the goal.
Garuccio was also proving a menace to the Morton back line, cutting in on his left frequently and he almost looped a shot over Pearson, but the goalie did well to paw it over the bar. The corner from Cochrane was delightful and this time Vanecek put his header over the bar.
Pearson was keeping the score down and saving Morton’s blushes, and he had to be alert again when Keena capitalised on a loose ball. The Irishman fired a powerful drive towards goal which looked destined to rip the net but Pearson was equal to it. The Irishman was in an ongoing battle with the keeper, testing him multiple times and eventually, he won the war.
It took until the 75th minute for his next breakthrough. The striker picked up an Irving pass on the edge of the box, turned onto his right and sent a stunning effort past Pearson for his second and Hearts' fourth.
Keena got his hat-trick two minutes later when he picked up another pass on the edge of the box, spinning past one, skipping past another, and placing a left footed shot into the bottom corner. It rounded off a superb display for the youngster, who had scored four goals in the space of 24 hours.
Morton had one late chance as they hit on the counter, with the ball played into Lewis Strapp who had meandered forward, but the centre-back could only fire wide when one-on-one with Zlamal.
Hearts: Zlamal, Dikamona, Hamilton © (Petkov 65’), Baur (Hickey 78’), Garuccio, Cochrane (Smith 65’), Irving, Burns, Wighton (Henderson 45’), Keena (Makovora 83’), Vanecek
Subs Not Used: Mason, Logan
Morton: Pearson, Hynes ©(Duffy 69’), Gallacher (Hamilton 77’),, Strapp, Ben Docherty, McGrattan, Brophy, R. Lyon, Rodger, Easdale (J. Lyon 69’), Blair Docherty (Purdue 69’)
Sub Not Used: Garrity