Jamie Walker gave Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson food for thought ahead of Sunday’s Edinburgh derby by scoring an injury-time winner for Hearts Under-20s against Dunfermline.
The 21-year-old winger, who missed the Jambos’ opening day victory over Rangers due to suspension, fired home a 22-yard strike to give the Hearts youngsters a 2-1 win over the Pars at New Victoria Park, home of Newtongrange Star.
Walker is free from suspension for the Tynecastle clash against Hibs, although with Billy King and Sam Nicholson performing well thus far on the flanks, the Scotland U-21 star faces a battle to regain his place.
His performance last night, however, will have done him no harm and he was joined in the 20s side by fellow first-teamers James Keatings, David Smith, Jason Holt and Gary Oliver.
Dunfermline started the brighter of the two sides without ever threatening the hosts’ keeper Robbie Brown and David Smith could have opened the scoring with two decent chances, the first saved by Jamie Wilson before his second attempt smacked off the face of the crossbar.
As the game flowed from end to end, Hearts drew first blood on 38 minutes through Oliver, another player who has impressed this season and is keen to break into the first team. The 19-year-old was in the right place to finish from close range after a fine move involving Walker and Liam Smith.
Hearts’ lead was short-lived, however, as Dunfermline’s new signing Chigozie Ugwu pounced on some hesitation at the back from Liam Henderson and Liam Gordon following a short back-pass and the Englishman left Brown with no chance.
Hearts dominated the second half, with Walker and Oliver peppering Wilson’s goal. Holt and Keatings went close at the death before Walker stepped up with a right-footed drive in the third minute of stoppage time to seal the victory.
Hearts Under-20s: Brown (Williams 79), L Smith, Gordon, Page, Henderson, Walker, Holt, McKirdy (Scott 68), D Smith (Flanagan 77), Keatings, Oliver. Subs not used: I Smith, Roy.