Hearts Under-20s were defeated 6-3 by Dundee United in a quite astonishing SPFL Development League match at New Victoria Park.
The young Jambos, bolstered by the presence of first-teamers Jack Hamilton, Kevin McHattie, Brad McKay, Scott Robinson and Miguel Pallardo, led 3-2 until the 77th minute before unravelling in a manic finale last night.
United raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to a 13th-minute strike from Blair Spittal and then a hotly-disputed 27th-minute penalty from Aiden Connolly. Hamilton was adjudged by the assistant referee to have hauled down Connolly, but the striker swatted away the controversy to net the spot-kick.
Hearts huffed and puffed throughout much of the first half without making much headway, but pulled a goal back before the interval with a penalty of their own. Robbie Buchanan was fouled in the box and Angus Beith converted to make it 2-1 at the break.
Then pandemonium ensued. Hearts raced out of the traps and equalised on 50 minutes via Nathan Flanagan’s lovely finish on the edge of the box and then moved into the lead when Liam Henderson toe-poked a loose ball home to make it 3-2.
The hosts could have added to their tally as they pounded United keeper Michal Szromnik’s goal, but the Pole was in fine form to deny Buchanan and Flanagan before Liam Gordon nodded a corner just over.
Hearts were to rue those misses as United turned the match on its head in the final 13 minutes. Spittal restored parity with a deflected effort and then a minute later, Ola Adeyemo made it 4-3 with a close-range effort.
John Souttar then scored on 83 minutes when he was left unmarked at a corner and as Hearts pushed forward, Adeyemo completed United’s 6-3 win and a remarkable match with a goal from the edge of the box.
Hearts Under-20s: Hamilton, Gordon, McKay, Henderson, McHattie, McKirdy (Roy 74), Pallardo, Robinson, Flanagan (I Smith 73), Beith, Buchanan. Unused subs: Brown, Scott.