A luckless Hearts U20s side fell to a 2-0 defeat tonight at Ochilview against an experienced Hamilton Accies side, including four overage players.
Andy Kirk made six changes from the side that lost to Ross County in midweek, with Wojciech Gajda, Danny Baur, Harry Paton, Callumn Morrison, Angus Beith and Andy Irving dropping out.
Into the side came Kelby Mason, Harry Cochrane, Rory Currie, Anthony McDonald, Jamie Brandon and Alex Petkov.
Hearts started brightly, and Zanatta’s back post cross was met by McDonald, but the midfielder could only head wide from close range.
Aidan Keena then tried his luck from 30 yards out as he looked to use the wind to try and beat keeper Darren Jamieson but his effort was saved.
Hamilton began to enjoy a spell of possession, and they were awarded a penalty on 36 minutes when Aaron Reid was adjudged to have made a foul on the edge of the area, after a long delay from the referee.
Ross Cunningham stepped up and sent his shot straight down the middle beyond Mason to give the visitors the lead at the break.
After the interval, Hearts changed to a 3-4-1-2 formation with McDonald moving into a more influential role behind Zanatta and Keena. and he made an instant impression.
Firstly, bringing out a top save from Jamieson, then playing in Currie whose shot was well saved, while McDonald’s volleyed rebound was pushed out for a corner.
Hamilton were continuing to threaten on the counter as Hearts chased the game, and Marc Kelly missed a glorious chance to double the lead but he volleyed over from 12 yards.
A minute later, the game was safe, when Ryan Tierney latched on to a short back pass, rounded Mason and teed up Cunningham who rifled home a superb shot from the edge of the area.
Keena then had an effort saved from 20 yards, before a last-gasp onslaught saw Petkov hit the crossbar, sub Jay Sandison then had a shot saved from point blank range, and the final effort from Petkov was over the bar.
Hearts: Mason; Brandon, B. Gajda, Hamilton, Reid; Petkov, Cochrane; McDonald (Leonard 74’), Currie, Zanatta (Sandison 66’); Keena. Subs not used: W. Gajda, C. Smith, Ritchie, Paton.