An injury time Brad McKay penalty sealed a dramatic comeback for Hearts u/20 in what was dubbed the ‘mini’ Edinburgh Derby at Ainslie Park, writes Mark Brown.
Senior Squad managers Alan Stubbs and Craig Levein were amongst the 703 supporters who braved the bitterly cold night at home of Lowland League side Spartans to see a five goal thriller that had the twists and turns one would anticipate in a pulsating clash between the City rivals.
Defender Jordan Forster continued his comeback for Hibs whilst Osman Sow returned to the Hearts line-up after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The junior Jambos started the match in 3rd bottom place against their loftier hosts Hibs who kicked-off in fourth position in the SPFL Development League.
It was the young men in Maroon who opened the scoring as early as the 10th minute when Birthday boy James Keatings latched on to a through ball before lobbing an en-rushing Kleton Perntreou who was caught stranded off his line.
Scott Martin was denied by the crossbar in the 18th minute following a thunderous long-range strike as Hibs looked to get back on level terms.
Hibs continued to maintain the lion’s share of first half possession with Taylor Hendry having the pick of the chances including a header on target that required Jack Hamilton to look sharp in the Hearts goal.
HT: Hibs 0-1 Hearts
Hibs were offered a lifeline in the 55th minute after a rash challenge in the box gave the Referee little option than to point to the spot. Up stepped Lewis Allan who calmly sent Hamilton the wrong way to square things up.
The equaliser inspired Hibs who took less than two minutes to swing proceedings their way. Conner Duthie’s tremendous effort from the edge of the area offered Hamilton the only option of retrieving the ball from the back of the net – advantage Hibs!
A third strike in just eight second half minutes so the sides level once again. A free-kick out on the corner of the Hibs box was eyed up by Keatings. The 23rd year old caught Perntreou off-guard and somehow managed to squeeze his dead-ball effort in between the keeper and the near post to make it 2-2.
Despite the dipping temperature, it was fast and furious on the park with both sides refusing to settle for a share of the spoils.
Hamilton looked like he’d kept his side in the game with a fantastic 83rd minute save to deny the impressive Scott Martin.
Then, with the game set to enter injury time, controversy surrounded the Edinburgh Derby winner.
With Hearts pressing forward with one final push, Brad McKay’s strike crashed off the crossbar. On its way back to the defender, the ball appeared to strike his hand before he was unceremoniously bundled over inside the box.
A penalty kick was the outcome, with Hibs No.1 Kleton Perntreou perhaps counting himself fortunate to be still on the park to face McKay’s attempt from 12-yards. The keeper’s remonstrations towards the Ref weren’t helpful and the youngster was shown a yellow card for his troubles.
From the spot, McKay stepped up and slotted home the last gasp winner and secure victory for Hearts over their Edinburgh rivals.
FT: Hibs 2-3 Hearts
Hibs: Perntreou, Dunsmore, Stirling, Martyniuk, Forster, Scott, Martin, Duthie, Allan, Hendry, Crane. Subs: McGregor, Waugh, Smith, McKee & Brennan (GK).
Hearts: Hamilton, Hutchings, Smith, McGhee, McKay, Baxter, King, Henderson, Sow, Keatings, Oliver. Subs: Smith, Roy, Baur, Irving, Gordon & Mason (GK)