Hearts beat Arbroath 4-2 under the Tynecastle floodlights to progress through to the second round of the Scottish League Cup.
Robbie Neilson’s lads survived an early scare after falling behind to a first-half David Gold striker, before rallying in the second-half to build up a commanding lead through Jordan McGhee and an Osman Sow brace. Martin Grehan pulled one back for the visitors late on, before Jamie Walker cemented the victory right on the death.
The Jambos lined up for their first competitive match of season 2015/16 in all white, with 17-year-old Sean McKirdy pitched in from the start and Gary Oliver leading the line with Sow.
Hearts started the more dominant side but it was the visitors who had the game’s first half chance. Jamie Clarke got on the end of a corner and at the second attempt fired goalwards, only to see his effort sail over the bar.
Billy King went close on 15 minutes. He cut in from the left and rifled a shot on target from an acute angle, but Allan Fleming made a smart save at his near post.
The Jambos were inches away from taking the lead just before the half hour mark. Alim Ozturk’s delightful chipped ball forward was expertly taken down by Sam Nicholson, who managed to prod beyond Fleming as he was being forced wide, but the ball rolled agonisngly wide of the left-hand post by a matter of inches.
Oliver had the ball in the net after sidefooting past Fleming from Callum Paterson’s cross, however he flagged for offside.
With five minutes remaining until half-time, Arbroath took the lead. Sergio Cecilia Alvarez slipped Gold through and he slid his effort beyond Jack Hamilton and into the back of the net.
Hearts almost got back on level terms instantly. King’s corner was met by Paterson who rattled his header off the crossbar before Ozturk’s follow up was blocked.
Seconds later Fleming pulled off a fantastic diving save to deny Sow, who had beaten the offside trap and drilled low, but couldn’t beat the ‘keeper.
The visitors were handed a golden opportunity to double their lead five minutes into the second-half. A mix up between McGhee and Ozturk saw the ball land at the feet of Lewis Coult on the edge of the box, but he couldn’t hit the target with his half-volley.
Hearts got back on level terms on 57 minutes. Ozturk crossed low to the near post where McGhee latched on to smack the ball home.
Two minutes later it was 2-1. Nicholson showed fantastic skill to jink through the defence before cutting back for Sow to slide in and knock into the net.
Less than a minute had passed before Hearts were awarded a penalty, after Nicholson was bundled over in the area. Big Osman confidently stepped up and rattled home, sending Fleming the wrong way.
The Gorgie boys had the woodwork to thank for maintaining a two-goal cushion. Bobby Linn’s 30-yard thunderbolt free-kick crashed off Hamilton’s left-hand post, and Gold could only sky the rebound despite having an empty net at his mercy.
Nicholson thundered through the opposition’s backline in the 78th minute but slipped while pulling the trigger and ballooned his shot well wide of the target.
Just when it looked like the Jambos were home and dry, Arbroath pulled one back. A deep cross from the right was headed home from close range by Grehan.
Substitute Jamie Walker nearly wrapped the game up with a minute remaining. Igor Rossi found him at the edge of the box but Walker’s masterful turn inside and shot was brilliantly saved by Fleming at his near post.
Right on the death Hearts made it 4-2. A through ball from Nicholson saw Walker chase and prod past Fleming, though an Arbroath shirt may have got the final touch.
Hearts: Hamilton, Paterson, McHattie, Ozturk, McGhee, King, Gomis (Juanma, 65'), McKirdy, Nicholson, Oliver (Walker, 52'), Sow (Rossi, 76'). Subs: Alexander, L. Smith, Buchanan, Anderson.
Arbroath: Fleming, Wilson, London, Little, Hay, Clarke, Linn, Stewart, Coult, Gold, Alvarez (Hester, 82'). Subs: Brodie, Grehan, Munro, Reid, McWalter, Johnstone.
Referee: Alan Muir