Easter Road kids earn back bragging rights as Hearts are beaten in Youth Cup

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High-flying Hearts’ hopes of an Under-19 league and cup double were shattered as Hibs claimed a dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory to send their Capital rivals crashing out of the SFA Youth Cup.

High-flying Hearts’ hopes of an Under-19 league and cup double were shattered as Hibs claimed a dramatic 2-1 extra-time victory to send their Capital rivals crashing out of the SFA Youth Cup.

The Tynecastle youngsters had arrived at Easter Road for this third round tie seven points clear at the top of the SPL Under-19 League and knowing they had beaten the Hibs kids in a five-goal thriller at Riccarton only a few weeks ago.

And the Gorgie side looked as if they had taken another huge stride towards their dream when they led through a Fraser Mullen goal with only four minutes remaining. But Hibs, who had surrendered a 2-1 lead in added-on time in that earlier “mini derby,” had the last laugh this time round as Ross Caldwell thundered home an equaliser before going on to claim the winner with his tenth goal of the season in extra-time.

Caldwell’s glory double provoked scenes of jubilation on the final whistle, one which the striker, who had been replaced nine minutes from the end, admitted he felt was never coming as he watched his team-mates hang on for a place in the last 16. He said: “Winning a derby at this level means just as much to the boys as the first team players, you could see that by the way we were all jumping about at the end.

“Losing against them the other week and the way we conceded the third goal in particular hurt us so this was a chance for a wee bit of revenge.

“I think we put some things right.

“But the last few minutes seemed an eternity, the nerves were going as I stood in the dug-out waiting for the final whistle, it felt as if it was never going to come.”

A crowd approaching 2500 took advantage of free admission and were rewarded with two hours of entertaining football, a classic cup-tie in which there was plenty of goalmouth incident, near things and, of course, goals, as the match swung one way then the other.

Danny Handling blasted the game’s first chance over the bar, the Hibs midfielder probably not realising just how much time he had as he met Phil Addison’s cross on the volley, Addison then cracking an angled drive off the underside of Hearts goalkeeper Jack Hamilton’s bar a minute later.

But Hearts hit back with Jamie Walker tormenting Hibs from either flank – doing so throughout the entire 120 minutes – his low shot well held by Paul Grant, the goalkeeper then pulling off a terrific save as Callum Paterson’s head met Walker’s cross.

Jason Holt did superbly well to hold his nerves in a two v one situation as Caldwell and Handling broke before Hamilton, who had put his side in a bit of bother with a couple of poor kicks, did well to shovel a Caldwell shot round the post. Kevin McHattie had forced a sharp save out of Grant but the Hibs goalkeeper was beaten when Mullen, scorer of a 95th minute winner against Rangers in Hearts’ last match, played a one-two with Paterson before drilling a low shot into the far corner of the net.

Caldwell had wrung little change out of centre-half Brad McKay but he almost equalised six minutes after the opener, latching on to Sam Stanton’s pass before rounding Hamilton. Although he appeared to be caught by the goalkeeper he remained on his feet only to see his shot come back off the post, eventually falling for Stanton who couldn’t believe his luck as his effort was kicked off the line by Jambos skipper Christopher Kane.

Hibs coach James McDonaugh said: “Ross might have had a penalty but he is an honest lad, all he wants to do is score goals, but there was some great defending from Hearts as well.

McDonaugh admitted he had all but given up hope of a goal when McKay and McHattie left Jordon Foster’s long ball to each other, Caldwell needing no second invitation as he thundered a rising shot beyond Hamilton and so ensuring an extra 30 minutes of action.

It took just five minutes of that period for Caldwell to grab what proved to be the winner, the 18-year-old using his strength and power to hold off his marker as he chased down goalkeeper Grant’s clearance to beat Hamilton for a second time.

McDonaugh said: “They were two great strikes from Ross. He perhaps didn’t have his best game but he kept plugging away and got his rewards. That’s the sort of player he can be, quiet for 88 minutes and then he bursts on to the scene and scores a goal.

“He’s always a threat and opposition teams fear him. He delivered the goods, but it was a great team performance, we defended well and solid in midfield. It was a great result for us but we have to congratulate Hearts for what was a good game.”

If McDonaugh wondered where an equaliser might come from, Caldwell insisted he had no doubts saying: “There’s a belief in this squad, everyone felt we’d get a chance and when it came I managed to take it. The second one might have been a bit ‘route one’ but it doesn’t really matter so long as the ball ends up in the back of the net.

“I’d imagine it was a great game for the neutral and it was terrific for us being out on the pitch at Easter Road with a big crowd watching.”

There was, however, a scare for Hibs when Walker yet again weaved his magic on the left before delivering an inviting cross which somehow substitute Sam Nicholson managed to smack off the underside of Grant’s bar from inside the six yard box.

As the young legs tired it was no surprise that the pace of the game dropped but even so Nicholson managed to bullet a header into the arms of Grant before Hibs sub Alex Harris, seeking the goal to calm the home side’s jangling nerves, forced Hamilton to push a late shot round the post.

Hibs: Grant, Gold, Foster, Verth, Doris, Horribine, Monaghan, Stanton, Handling (E Smith 58), Addison (Harris 69), Caldwell (Donaldson 111). Subs not used: Horne. Mitter.

Hearts: Hamilton, Mullen, Kane, McKay, McHattie, Walker, Holt, D Smith, Tapping (A King 105), Paterson (Nicholson 91), Stewart (B King 79). Subs not used: Carswell, McGhee.

* DUE to the ongoing media ban at Hearts, Under-19 coach Darren Murray was unavailable for comment.