Match Reports

Match Report: Stirling Albion 0-2 Hearts

20th July 2021

Hearts secured qualification to the knockout stage of the Premier Sports Cup with a 2-0 victory over Stirling Albion.

Robbie Neilson made one change to the side that defeated Cove Rangers a week ago, with Peter Haring coming into the side in place of Finlay Pollock.

The hosts featured a number of former Hearts players in their ranks, and one of them had a chance in the opening minute. Andy Halliday’s  pass was seized upon by Dylan Bikey, who drove at goal and got a shot on target that Craig Gordon held.

Hearts took their time to find their feet in the game without really being troubled, but it was a moment of brilliance that opened the deadlock.

Gary Mackay-Steven collected a pass from Liam Boyce at the edge of the area, held his marker and back-heeled the ball through the defender’s legs back to Boyce who composed himself before finishing from close range.

Hearts looked more at ease in their surroundings now, and Mackay-Steven had two chances to double the lead. First, Halliday slipped him in after winning the ball in midfield but the winger shot into the side netting.

Then, Michael Smith won the ball high up the park for Boyce who played in Mackay-Steven, with the winger choosing to square for Smith at the edge of the box instead of shooting, and the shot was saved.

From the corner, the ball fell to Boyce after a stramash in the area and he was denied by a remarkable block on the line by Sean Heaver.

Into the second half, and another former Jambo nearly made an impact. Dale Carrick chased down a long ball, turned Craig Halkett and shot for goal but his effort was blocked.

The game started to become a bit stodgy and Neilson made some changes, with Armand Gnanduillet making his first appearance of the season along with Pollock coming off the bench.

And almost immediately Hearts fashioned a chance, with Gnanduillet firing across goal and somehow Stirling managed to clear with Pollock and John Souttar in close proximity.

But the second did arrive moments later. Mackay-Steven saw a shot blocked, and from the rebound, Alex Cochrane squared the ball across goal for Pollock to tap in and net his first senior goal.

It was almost three, moments later, when Boyce and Gnanduillet combined at the edge of the area, but the latter’s shot was batted away by Blair Currie.

With the game secured, and qualification assured, Hearts were content to see out time and give Craig Gordon his tenth consecutive clean sheet.

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, McNiff, Banner, McGregor, Laird (McLean, 65'), Bikey, Roberts, Carrick, Leitch, Heaver. Subs: Law, Cummins, Johnstone, Flanagan, Moore, Mackin, Creaney, Summers.

Hearts: Gordon, M. Smith, Kingsley, Souttar, Haring (Pollock, 68'), Boyce (Walker, 80'), Mackay-Steven (McEneff, 80'), Halliday, Cochrane (C. Smith, 85'), Halkett, Ginnelly (Gnanduillet, 68'). Subs: Stewart, Henderson, Popescu, Damour.