Match Reports

Hamilton 3-2 Hearts B

1st September 2021

Hearts were defeated in the second round of the SPFL Trust Trophy at the Foys Stadium in Hamilton.

John Rankin’s young side - officially classed as Hearts B - took the game to their senior opponents for the majority and will consider themselves mightily unlucky to be eliminated from the tournament.

It seemed as if Hearts would be in for a long evening when Miko Virtanen nodded Accies into the lead after just five minutes, following a high tempo start from the home side, but Hearts rallied and almost levelled immediately.

Euan Henderson breezed past two defenders and squared the ball for Makenzie Kirk, although the ball was just slightly behind the striker, and he couldn’t get it out of his feet quick enough to make proper contact with the ball.

Accies were soon struggling to deal with the intensity of the pressing game employed by Hearts, using the same 3-4-3 formation as the first team, and this uncertainty led to a serious injury in their ranks. Henderson ran at Shaun Want and Virtanen, and caused the two to collide, with the former being stretchered off and the latter a bloody mess.

In the second half, Hearts ramped it up. Henderson drove at goal and played a pass left for Finlay Pollock, but the midfielder shanked a left-footed effort wide of the target. However, you sensed a goal was coming and it did, on the hour mark.

Henderson slid the ball wide to the overlapping Leo Watson who fired in a sumptuous cross between the two Hamilton centre-halves, and Kirk stooped in to head home from close range. Sixty seconds later, the game was turned on its head.

Aidan Denholm collected the ball in his own half and drove for goal, with runners to his left and right. The Accies defence backed off, anticipating the pass, so Denholm kept going and arrowed a superb strike into the bottom left hand corner from 20 yards to give Hearts the lead.

It should have been three shortly after, when Henderson cut in from the left and flew past Hamilton’s defenders before the ball broke to Pollock in the area, but he couldn’t get his shot away. They would rue that miss as tiredness kicked in, when Sean Docherty’s slack back pass was seized on by Andy Ryan, who rounded Ross Stewart and squared for Lewis Spence to score.

Stewart was then tested by a long range effort from Kyle Munro, before Accies won the game on a counter. A long ball found Ryan, who cut inside onto his left foot just inside the area and curled a shot in off the post. Not the result Hearts deserved after a superb second half display, but some valuable experience and lessons learned about what is necessary to hold a lead at this level, with plenty positives to take.

Hearts: Stewart, C.Smith, Watson, Docherty, Flatman, Rathie, Pollock, Denholm, Kirk (Tait 85), McGill, Henderson. Subs not used: Hambrook, Thomas, Gordon, Beagley.

Report: Chris McPherson