Hearts U20s were defeated 2-0 by Celtic in tonight’s Development League clash at Ochilview Park in Stenhousemuir.
Andy Kirk’s Wee Jambos lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Harry Cochrane and Alex Petkov anchoring in midfield, while Aidan Keena was supported up front by Lewis Moore, Rory Currie and Euan Henderson.
Celtic, fresh from their first match in the Champions League U19 section - falling 3-2 to Paris St-Germain last week - lined up with experienced central midfielder Liam Henderson in the number ten role.
Henderson was in the thick of things from the off, pulling the strings for the visitors, and he registered the first shot on goal when he tried his luck from 50 yards out, but the ball sailed over the bar. He tried again a few moments later from closer in, but again his free-kick missed the target.
Hearts responded when Danny Baur played a ball into the box that Keena nodded down for Cochrane, but the diminutive midfielder’s fierce shot had the sting taken out of it thanks to a deflection, and was easily held.
Kelby Mason was then called into action when he produced a fine save as Henderson burst into the box, palming the ball away for a corner. From the set piece, Jack Aitchison came close as he headed over.
Michael Johnston was next to have a go for the visitors when he let fly from 25 yards out, but his shot lacked accuracy and flew into the terraces behind Mason’s goal. The visitors were controlling the game at this point, and Hearts were battling valiantly to keep them at bay.
The deadlock was broken, however, five minutes before the break. A chipped ball over the top found Aitchison inside the area, and the Celtic forward slammed the ball beyond Mason from close-range to give Celtic the lead just before the interval.
Hearts came agonisingly close to a leveller shortly after the break. Keena broke into the box and hammered a shot at Hazard, whose save rebounded back to Currie. Currie’s effort looked in all the way but somehow the Celtic keeper pushed the ball over the bar to keep Hearts at bay.
Just after the hour, the away side doubled their lead. Sub Ewan Henderson - brother of Liam - beat the offside trap and hit a fine half-volley beyond Mason to make the Wee Jambos’ task that much more difficult.
Callumn Morrison was introduced shortly after to try and introduce some more pace to proceedings, and his break from inside the Hearts half saw him rifle a ball across for Keena, but the ball evaded the Irish striker and it remained 0-2.
Hearts U20s: Mason; Sandison, Gajda, Baur, Reid; Cochrane (Paton 74'), Petkov; Moore, Currie, Henderson (Morrison 65'); Keena. Subs: W. Gajda, K. Smith, Irving, Ritchie.