Kevin McHattie’s return to the Hearts first-team squad suffered a minor set-back after he was forced to pull out of the Jambos’ Under-20 side on Monday night.
The left-back, who has been sidelined by a knee injury picked up in a 2-0 win over Rangers in November, was due to play in the youth team’s match away at St Johnstone. However, the 21-year-old felt his groin tighten during the warm-up and was subsequently withdrawn from the starting line-up, with Daniel Baur taking his place.
Hearts ended up losing 2-0 on the artificial pitch at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium and Under-20s boss Jack Ross was left to bemoan a lack of threat in the final third.
“I felt there was not much between the sides,” said Ross. “I was reasonably happy with much of our play up to the final third of the pitch.”
Hearts fielded a reasonably strong side, including senior players Brad McKay, Jordan McGhee, Soufian El Hassnaoui, Gary Oliver and Sam Nicholson.
Neither side created many chances in the first half, but Saints opened the scoring ten minutes into the second half through midfielder Scott Brown, who crashed a 30-yard right-footed drive beyond Jack Hamilton via the underside of the crossbar.
Saints added a second goal with little more than 13 minutes remaining when substitute Paul Esselmont netted a George Hunter pass in a breakaway as Hearts pushed forward.
Hearts nearest effort came from a Gary Oliver header from a Liam Henderson cross that cleared keeper Mark Hurst but dropped over the wrong side of the crossbar.
Hearts: Hamilton; Hutchings, McKay, Henderson, Baur, Buchanan (Flanagan 81), McGhee, I Smith (Moore 69), Nicholson, El Hassnaoui, Oliver. Unused subs: Baxter, Roy.