Hearts B knocked Edinburgh City out of the SPFL Trust Trophy in a feisty encounter at Ainslie Park on Tuesday night.
Backed by a healthy crowd of around 250 fans, the young Jambos dominated the first half of the match, and were thoroughly deserving of their victory, playing in the same 3-4-3 formation as the first team.
City struggled to get the ball off Hearts in the opening stages, and only a superb last-gasp block from Stephen Bronsky denied Makenzie Kirk the opener, after a long diagonal from Mihai Popescu had set Sean Docherty scampering down the right wing.
A minute later, Popescu came even closer. Connor Smith, skipper for the night and impressive, covering every blade of grass, won a free-kick, and whipped in a fine delivery for the Romanian defender who volleyed first time. City keeper Brian Schwake spilled the ball but gathered it quickly on the goal-line to deny Hearts.
The home side did come into the game briefly, with Ouzy See rounding Liam MacFarlane but being denied but some good defending, before Popescu was involved again at the other end. Euan Henderson slipped a pass through, and Popescu was tripped in the area before he could shoot. Henderson took the ball and sent Schwake the wrong way to give Hearts the lead.
City had the better of the opening stages in the second half, with Bronsky heading just over, and Robbie McIntyre shooting wide after a slick move, but Hearts weren’t truly threatened, The wind began to pick up, which limited the chances, aside for one where Kirk shot wide from the edge of the area.
Hearts showed experience that belied their young average age by retaining the ball in the closing stages, frustrating their opponents who had to resort to fouls just to try and get the ball back, and the young Jambos saw out time comfortably to take their place in the next round.
Hearts: McFarlane, Docherty (Thomas '64), Watson, Darge, Popescu, Rathie, C.Smith, Denholm, Kirk (Hambrook '84), McGill, Henderson. Subs not used: Spratt, Aitken, H.Gordon.
By Chris McPherson