Callum Paterson made his first appearance in a Hearts shirt since suffering a knee injury in July as the Jambos’ Under-20s were beaten 3-0 by their Rangers counterparts at Newtongrange.
Paterson, who twisted his knee against Annan in the Petrofac Training Cup first round, was joined by Dale Carrick – also back from injury – Brad McKay and Soufian El Hassnaoui in the team. Other than that, it was another fairly young side that included under-17 players Greg Page and Andy Taylor.
The visitors were first to show, Darren Ramsay firing a 20-yard shot just over the bar, and three minutes later Robbie Buchanan went down in a challenge from goalkeeper Liam Kelly after latching on to a short passback.
Buchanan was in the action shortly afterwards, with an angled shot that was saved for a corner, and from that flag kick from Nathan Flanagan Paterson had a header saved.
Paterson had a further effort saved, but on 21 minutes Ramsay had a shot deflected past a post for the visitors. As play swung from end to end, Carrick pulled a shot well wide while, at the other end, Ramsay had a long-range shot that clipped the crossbar on its way over.
On the stroke of half-time Jack Hamilton made two brilliant stops from Andy Murdoch and Tom Walsh to keep the scoreline blank.
The second half, from a Hearts’ point of view, was disappointing, against a Rangers side that bossed the midfield.
On 59 minutes, Walsh opened the scoring for the visitors with a 20-yard shot and six minutes later Ramsay added a second with a close-range shot after Hamilton had parried a Walsh effort.
On 72 minutes Ryan Hardie completed the scoring, drilling home a shot from the edge of the box that more or less killed the contest. However, Hearts never stopped trying, with El Hassnaoui (twice) and Buchanan coming close with efforts in the closing stages.
Hearts: Hamilton; Paterson (I Smith 63), McKay, Page, Beith, Flanagan, Scott, McKirdy (Roy 70), Carrick (Taylor 79), Buchanan, El Hassnaoui. Sub not used: Brown.