Hearts lost 2-1 to Stirling Albion in the Supporters Direct Scotland Cup this evening.
Russell McLean put the Jambos ahead in the first-half but goals from Sean Dickson and a Trialist made sure that the trophy stayed at Forthbank.
With two games in two days, Robbie Neilson elected for a mixture of youth and experience. U20s trialist Dario Zanatta started in midfield as did recent full-timer Lewis Moore, while Callum Paterson skippered the side.
An even opening quarter of an hour saw neither side really threaten, with Hearts hitting the wings and Stirling Albion looking dangerous on the counter attack.
The breakthrough was made on 17 minutes. Kevin McHattie broke down the left and sent over an inviting cross, which the unmarked McLean duly tapped home from inside the six-yard box.
Hearts quickly settled and found themselves the more dominant side. Soufian El Hassnaoui had a brace of efforts saved by Smith, following neat passing moves from the men in maroon.
Trialist Zanatta put in a few good balls from the right wing, while on the other side Moore always looked to get forward as the young maroon contingent made a considerable impact upon proceedings.
Paterson tried his luck from 25-yards just after the half-hour mark, but his blast dropped a matter of inches wide of Smith’s right-hand post.
Wholesale changes were made at half-time, with only Jahmal Howlett-Mundle staying on from the first-half.
John Paul McGovern went close for the hosts with a 25-yard set-piece, but his effort flew just inches wide of Jack Hamilton’s right-hand post.
At the other end Reilly showed great awareness to take down a high ball and run in on goal, but his curled shot was well saved by Smith in the Stirling Albion goal.
Despite bossing the game, Hearts conceded with 14 minute remaining. Howlett-Mundle was penalised for a challenge inside the box and Dickson duly dispatched from the spot.
Only two minutes later the hosts took the lead. Trialist 19 poked home from a corner after the ball broke in the six-yard box.
Hearts went close to getting back on level terms through Jordan McGhee. His curling free-kick beat the wall but Smith was on hand to touch the ball over the bar.
Moments later the Jambos were denied by the woodwork. Reilly brought the ball down for Sow but his first-time shot rattled back off the post.
Another tough workout for Robbie’s lads who are back in action at Cowdenbeath tomorrow night.
Stirling Albion: C. Smith, Hamilton, Forsyth, McGovern, R. Smith (McGeachie, 21'), McMillan, Johnston, Comrie (Robertson, 61'), Doris, Dickson, Cunningham. Subs: McKinlay, Scott Davidson, Sam Davidson, Trialist, McKenzie, Binnie.
Hearts first-half: Alexander, Paterson, McHattie, Jones, Howlett-Mundle, McKirdy, Zanatta, Anderson, McLean, El Hassnaoui, Moore.
Hearts second-half: Hamilton, L. Smith, McGhee, Howlett-Mundle, Baur, Walker, Buchanan, King, I. Smith, Sow, Reilly.
Referee: Craig Charleston
Top man: Callum Paterson