Hearts U20s continued their fine Development League form with a 2-0 home win over Kilmarnock this afternoon.
Second-half goals from Callumn Morrison and Rory Currie sealed the win for the Wee Jambos, which takes them to within one point of second-place Dundee.
Kilmarnock started the game brightly, maintaining possession inside the Hearts half but without troubling Kelby Mason in the Wee Jambos’ goal.
It didn’t take long for Hearts to find their rhythm though. Cameron Logan’s ball inside found Malaury Martin 18-yards out and his spectacular bicycle kick made Devlin Mackay in the Killie goal backtrack before pulling the ball out of the air on his goal-line.
Logan was involved again soon after, when his through made its way to Aidan Keena just inside the box, but from an angle the striker dragged his shot wide of the target.
Hearts were well on top by this time, and in the 21st minute Martin’s pinpoint cross to Connor Smith inside the box saw the midfielder hit a first-time volley that was stopped by Mackay and gathered on the second attempt.
Rory Currie’s shot moments later was weak and straight at Mackay, before the striker saw an effort ruled out after being penalised for high feet inside the area.
Keena was next to try his luck on the half hour mark, curling a shot with the outside of his boot over the bar after being teed up by Smith.
Before the first-half was out, Martin’s cross was nodded down by Currie into the path of Alex Petkov, but on the turn his shot was shanked wide.
Two minutes into the restart, Hearts took the lead. Currie looked to capatalise on a mistake at the back but was bundled over inside the box, and Morrison made no mistake from the spot, sending Mackay the wrong way.
Kilmarnock enjoyed a short period of pressure not long after. Alex Samizadeh saw one shot blocked by Bartlomiej Gajda, before seeing a second effort brilliantly saved by Mason.
Just after the hour mark, the Wee Jambos doubled their lead. From a throw in, Currie raced through the middle before pulling the trigger 20-yards out, and his shot swerved into the back of the net, leaving Mackay rooted to the spot.
It was nearly 3-0 eight minutes later. Morrison sent a ball back across the face of goal for Keena but his looping header landed on the roof of the net.
Mason then pulled off a stunning save to maintain Hearts’ two-goal cushion, diving to his left to push away Samizadeh’s snapshot from inside the box.
Killie tried to put on the pressure in the closing stages but the Hearts defence stood firm to secure all three points.
A win or draw against Celtic in the final game of the season will see Andy Kirk’s side leapfrog Dundee into second place in the Development League table.
Hearts: Mason, Logan, Quitongo (Ward, 76’), B. Gajda, Baur, Petkov (Watson, 87’), Morrison, Martin, Keena, Currie (Ritchie, 63’), C. Smith. Subs: W. Gajda, McGill.