Hearts beat East Fife 3-2 at Bayview to seal their eigth consecutive victory in all competitions on Tuesday night.
Olly Lee scored twice inside the first two minutes to put the Jambos in the driving seat before the hosts pulled one back late in the first half. Andy Irving restored the Jambos two-goal lead with a sublime long range strike and although the Methil men pulled one back within minutes, the Tynecastle side held on for the three points.
Robbie Neilson made no less than eight changes to the team that defeated Inverness on Saturday. Christophe Berra was named captain in his first game back from injury whilst there was also a place between the sticks for Ross Stewart with Craig Gordon on Scotland duty.
Jamie Brandon and Aidy White joined the backline alongside Mihai Popescu and Berra, with Euan Henderson, Scott McGill, Andy Irving and Elliott Frear joining Olly Lee and Craig Wighton in midfield and attack.
The Jambos came flying out the traps and took the lead inside 25 seconds as Lee met a ball at the back post and fired low into the left corner.
Within a minute the Englishman was celebrating again as he got on the end of Frear’s short corner to fire the ball off the keeper and into the bottom right corner to put the Jambos 2-0 up inside 2 minutes.
The boys in maroon kept up the pressure without carving out any additional clear-cut chances, however, the hosts soon found their rhythm and began to ask questions of the Hearts backline.
Their pressure told off roughly seven minutes from the interval as a Ryan Wallace shot was palmed away by Stewart, enabling Jack Hamilton to slam home from close range.
Hearts then had Stewart to thank minutes later as he produced a stunning close range save to deny the Bayview side a leveller before half-time.
Lee’s hopes of a hat-trick were dashed within a minute of the restart as a knock sustained in the opening 45 minutes saw him taken off in place of Steven Naismith.
Hearts restored their two-goal lead on the hour mark as Irving stepped up and steered a superb long range effort into the bottom left corner. Within minutes, however, the hosts pulled one back again as a long ball through the middle enabled Wallace to slot home from close range.
The home side ramped up the pressure in the final ten minutes, however, the Jambos saw out the last couple of minutes by keeping possession deep in the East Fife half to make it four wins from four in the Betfred Cup - thereby securing advancement to the knock-out stages of the competition.
East Fife: Hart, Dunsmore (Watt '82), Higgins, Murdoch, Dunlop, Denholm (Collins '76), Slattery, Wallace, Agnew, Hamilton (Smith '76), Davidson. Subs: Long, Watson, Dow, McConville, Newton, McLaughlin.
Hearts: Stewart, Brandon, Popescu, Berra (Kingsley ’72), White, Lee (Naismith ’49), Irving, Henderson, McGill, Frear, Wighton. Subs: Zlamal, Moore, Logan, Darge, Denholm.
Ref: Euan Anderson