Heart of Midlothian 2-1 Partick Thistle
Monday 12th November 2018, KO 13:00 | Reserve Cup | Oriam
Anthony McDonald scored an injury-time winner as Hearts progressed to the next round of the Reserve Cup by topping Group C.
A young Hearts side battled hard against Partick Thistle in an exciting second-half that was witness to three fantatsic goals.
Both teams struggled to get flowing in a first-half that was sparse of chances.
Thistle striker Jordan Kemoe caused the Hearts' defence a few problems in the opening exchanges, shrugging off Dean Ritchie and firing a shot just wide. He had the ball in the back of the net moments later, bundling in a cross from a free-kick but the big forward was offside.
Hearts first came close through an Alex Petkov header after a well worked corner routine but the Bulgarian glanced his header wide.
Aaron Hickey hit a shot straight at Thistle stopper Jamie Sneddon on the half hour mark before Connor Smith and Anthony McDonald both blasted shots just over the bar.
Going into the second half Hearts immediately started the brighter of the two teams.
A really good bit of play from McDonald saw him spin off his marker and surge towards the box. He laid off to Lewis Moore who cut back on his right to fire a shot just past the near post.
Euan Henderson was subbed on just before the hour and almost made an immediate impact. A long ball forward from Dean Ritchie found the striker who smacked the outside of the post from a tight angle on the right-hand side with his first touch of the game.
Hearts finally broke the deadlock just a few minutes later. Captain Petkov broke up a Thistle attack in midfield, catching the away side out. The centre-back slipped in Smith, who scurried forward before laying it off to the right to find McDonald who powered a right-footed effort past Sneddon to open the scoring.
They almost scored again after sub Dario Zanatta surged into the box and cut it back to McDonald but the 17-year-old just couldn't get a foot on it.
Thistle had two men booked in quick succession as tempers flared but they found a stunning equaliser out of nowhere.
With 15 minutes left, Aidan Fitzpatrick levelled the tie with an absolute howitzer. The forward, who has broken into Thistle's first team this season, picked up the ball in a central position, turned past his man and onto his left foot before rifling a strike high into the net from 25 yards, leaving Kelby Mason with no chance.
The striker almost doubled his tally moments later. He was played in on the right and cut towards goal. He tried to strike it across Mason but the keeper got a foot to it. The ball fell kindly to Melbourne at the back post but the on-loan West Brom left-back hesitated on the ball and the chance was gone.
Partick could smell blood and went close again through McIntyre, who got on the end of a Fitzpatrick cross but could only head wide.
All of Thistle's momentum was soon to disappear as Melbourne was red-carded for handbags with Scott McGill, with the left-back shoving the Hearts youngster. It meant Thistle had to play the final ten minutes with ten men and Hearts almost immedaitely took the initiative.
Zanatta made a good run, playing a nice one-two with Petkkov before racing down the left. He sent a hanging cross in to the back post but McDonald could only head over.
Hearts got the breakthrough in the 91st minute and it was that man again - Anthony McDonald.
Broadie Strang collected a loose corner and found Smith who turned inside before cutting a ball through to Euan Henderson who ran through with a clever run on the left. He cut it back to McDonald at the far post and the winger slammed home from six yards, ensuring all three points and a top of the table finish for Andy Kirk's side.
Hearts: Mason, Logan, Gajda (Strang, 86’), Petkov (c), Hickey (Zanatta, 66’), Ritchie, McGill, McDonald, Smith, Moore, Makovora (Henderson, 57’)
Subs: Silva, Leddie
Partick Thistle: Sneddon, Duncanson, McIntyre, Scobbie (c), Niang (Connor 68’), Melbourne, Ntambwe, Walker, McCarthy (Cameron, 74’), Fitzpatrick, Kemoe
Subs: Stevenson, Renfrew
Referee: Peter Stuart