Hearts U20s beat Dunfermline U20s 2-1 in tonight’s Development League Match.
Forced to sport the away colours of Stenhouemuir – whose Ochilview ground hosted the game – due to an apparent colour clash on the night, the Wee Jambos took a second-half lead through Dario Zanatta. Dunfermline looked to have grabbed a point in the last minute with Mikael Antoine Curier’s penalty, but Ian Smith drilled home the winner right at the death.
There was a late change prior to kick off, with Angus Beith picking up an injury during the warm up. He was replaced by Sean McKirdy in the starting line up.
The visitors nearly took an early lead after Paul-Joesph Crossan connected with a corner from the right, but he could only loop his free header wide of the target.
The Wee Jambos responded through Robbie Buchanan, who won the ball in the middle of the park before driving forward and drilling low from outside the box, only to see Pars ‘keeper David Hutton fling himself to his right and palm the ball behind.
Hearts went close again in 11 minutes when Leon Jones’s glancing header flew across the face of goal after meeting Callumn Morrison’s corner, but he failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
Jack Hamilton pulled off two great saves in a matter of minutes, both from Ryan Wallace set pieces. The first was a 30-yard thunderbolt that the Hearts ‘keeper blocked, before tipping a swerving effort over the bar, this time from 25-yards out.
Hearts had the woodwork to thank for keeping the score level at 36 minutes. Wallace’s short free-kick saw Rhys McCabe cut inside and blast a long-range effort off Hamilton’s left-hand post.
The Pars were enjoying shots from distance, with Lewis Spence next to try his luck, but his 25-yard blast whizzed just past the post.
There were no changes at half-time for the Wee Jambos, and they continued to pass their way up the park. Soufian El Hassnaoui went close five minutes in, showing great strength to turn his man at the edge of the box and shoot, but he fired well over the bar.
Hamilton was on inspired form and he kept the Pars at bay once again, making a great stop from Wallace after the Dunfermline man latched onto a ball over the top and went one-on-one.
El Hassnaoui’s 59th minute free-kick grazed the side netting, while at the other end Hamilton dived to stop Wallace’s free header from eight yards, in what was becoming an end to end game.
After 66 minutes the deadlock was finally broken and it was courtesy of Zanatta. The Canadian took possession from a throw in, deep inside the Dunfermline box, before running across the face of goal and drilling low into Hutton’s left-hand corner.
Substitute Russell McLean’s curling shot from distance floated over the bar, as Hearts continued to press for the killer second goal.
The game’s second goal did come, but unfortunately it was for the visitors. With only one minute remaining, Liam Smith was judged to have brought down Hopkirk inside the box, and Curier stepped up to send Hamilton the wrong way from the spot.
There was more drama to come, however, as sub Ian Smith darted inside and from 18-yards out pulled the trigger and drove beyond Hutton and into the back of the net, via the inside of the post.
A deserved win for the Wee Jambos in what was an entertaining Development League match.
Hearts: Hamilton, L. Smith, L. Henderson, Baur, Jones, Buchanan, Morrison, McKirdy (I. Smith, 63'), Zanatta, El Hassnaoui (McLean, 75'), Moore. Subs: Cargill, Baxter, Howlett-Mundle, Roy.
Dunfermline: Hutton, Duncan, M’Clair, Orru, Morrison, Mcabe, Wallace, Spence, Curier, Crossan, Hopkirk. Subs: Gill, Galloway, Thomas, Crawford, Sutherland, Henderson, Luke.