Hearts U20s were knocked out of the Irn-Bru Cup by a strong St Mirren side in today’s encounter in Paisley following a 3-1 defeat.
Despite playing some nice stuff at times, the Wee Jambos were undone by their more experienced opponents who made their chances count, with all the goals coming from former Hearts players.
St Mirren took the lead on eight minutes. After a lovely bit of passing through the midfield, Gavin Reilly cut inside his marker and bent a terrific shot into the top corner from outside the box.
Reilly came close again as his effort from distance was well saved by Kelby Mason, before Conor O’Keefe tried his luck but Mason was equal to it again.
Hearts had their first sight of goal on 28 minutes, when some nice passing in midfield saw Rory Currie tee up Angus Beith, whose right-footed effort was tipped over the bar in spectacular style by keeper Ross Stewart.
Reilly then missed a glorious chance to double his tally, as Dale Hilson's shot was parried out by Mason to Reilly, but with the goal gaping, the former Jambos blazed it high over the bar.
Hearts ended the half on the front foot and nearly levelled when Callumn Morrison fired the ball across to Lewis Moore, but the winger couldn’t quite reach the cross.
After the break, the hosts doubled their lead when Ian McShane played Reilly in at the edge of the area, and the striker fired a low shot beyond Mason into the net.
McShane was next to have a go, as the former Ross County and Queen of the South man bent in a free-kick from 25 yards, but the ball skimmed the post and went wide.
Beith and Aidan Keena both came close soon afterwards. The midfielder curled a shot just past the post from the edge of the box, then striker Keena had a close range shot deflected over by Gregor Buchanan.
Hearts got a lifeline on 80 minutes when Keena’s cross was turned in by Currie after the ball rebounded back to the striker, but the home side soon restored their two goal lead.
Cammy Smith broke into the box and dinked a cross in for John Sutton to nod the ball home with 7 minutes remaining to kill off the Wee Jambos’ hopes of progressing.
Jamie Brandon had one final chance for Hearts when he beat the offside trap, but Stewart was equal to his effort and saved with his legs.
A highly promising display from the youngsters against vastly more experienced opponents, and some flashes of play that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a higher level.
St Mirren: Stewart, Demetriou, McGinn, Buchanan, Smith, Baird, McShane, Hilson, Reilly, O'Keefe, Eckersley. Subs: Samson, Duffy, Sutton, Kirkpatrick, Stewart, Whyte, Erhahon.
Hearts U20s: Mason, Brandon, Sandison, B. Gajda, Hamilton, Petkov, Morrison, Beith, Currie, Paton, Moore. Subs: W. Gajda, Keena, Irving, Cochrane, Reid, Ritchie.
Referee: Craig Charleston