Defensive mistakes cost Hearts Under-20s dear as they went down 3-1 to Caley Thistle at Grant Street Park in the latest round of the Development League.
Apart from a header from Thistle’s Danny Lopez, that just cleared goalkeeper Kelby Mason’s crossbar, Hearts dominated the opening stages. Over-age players Liam Smith, Gavin Reilly, Arnaun Djoum and Canadian youngster Dario Zanatta all came close to opening the scoring, amid a clutch of blocked crosses and shots.
Caley opened the scoring on 21 minutes from a 20-yard Ian Vigurs free-kick. Both teams had further efforts at goal before the hosts added a second on 39 minutes, Andrew Macrae taking advantage of a defensive blunder to slot the ball past Mason.
Two minutes into the second half, Lopez added a third, once more the Hearts rearguard not looking too clever.
However, Hearts pulled a goal back two minutes later when Robbie Buchanan played a one-two with Reilly before netting from close range, and from then on, apart from occasional Thistle breaks, Hearts were camped in the Caley half.
Buchanan missed a sitter on 57 minutes from inside the six-yard box amid a series of corner kicks and defenders blocking crosses as Hearts played some decent football. But despite fine efforts from Zanatta, Reilly and Ian Smith, further goals would not come.
Hearts: Mason, L Smith, Baur, Howlett-Mundle, L Henderson, I Smith (Morrison 62 ), McKirdy (Baxter 85 ), Djoum, Zanatta, Buchanan, Reilly.