CALLUM PATERSON’S early header settled a frantic Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle to take Hearts into the fifth round.
The full-back headed home on three minutes following a corner to eliminate highly-fancied Aberdeen.
Hearts were dominant throughout the first half and might have reached the interval more than 1-0 ahead. They had to survive pressure from the visitors in the second half but Aberdeen didn’t create much in the way of clear scoring chances. When they did, the hosts’ goalkeeper Neil Alexander was an effective barrier. The victory was Hearts’ first in the Scottish Cup since they lifted the trophy in 2012 and brought huge celebrations at full-time.
With Morgaro Gomis suspended having been sent off against Celtic in last season’s Scottish Cup, Hearts had to reorganise their midfield for this match. They also recalled captain Alim Ozturk in defence and dropped left-back Juwon Oshaniwa. Aberdeen arrived with a boisterous 3,400-strong support and a potent front three of Niall McGinn, Adam Rooney and Jonny Hayes. However, they quickly found themselves behind.
Three minutes after kick-off, Sam Nicholson’s corner was won by Ozturk above Andrew Considine. His header was glanced into the net at the back post by Paterson to provide the hosts with a rousing start to this cup tie. It was Hearts’ first Scottish Cup goal since Rudi Skacel scored the fifth in the 2012 final against Hibs. They might have gone 2-0 ahead quickly when Paterson’s cross was headed across the face of goal by Nicholson, with no-one in maroon present for an easy conversion.
Aberdeen’s defence looked somewhat disjointed and were fortune to escape again on 12 minutes. Kenny McLean’s clearance from his own byline landed with Paterson 18 yards out. He let the ball run loose, Miguel Pallardo scuffed a shot at goal but Blazej Augustyn snuck in at the far side. The visiting goalkeeper Danny Ward emerged to collect and spilled the ball but Augustyn could only shoot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Ward was in action again on the half-hour mark to stop Nicholson’s attempt from 20 yards. There was no question Hearts’ ferocious opening had taken Aberdeen aback. From another Nicholson corner, McLean’s forehead stopped Augustyn’s goalbound header.
Willo Flood was forced off injured near the end of the first half and there was a caution for visiting striker Rooney for barging Augustyn to the ground. Hearts’ Igor Rossi was also booked for adopting an aggressive attitude towards Rooney in the aftermath. There was no question Aberdeen welcomed the half-time whistle having been totally dominated in the first 45 minutes.
For the home side, the only concern was that their advantage remained slender despite their superiority. They pressed for a second goal but were always wary of the counter-attack. One quick break by Aberdeen ended with Rooney on the floor appealing for a penalty after tangling with Ozturk, but referee John Beaton didn’t agree. McLean then shot into the away end from 20 yards as those from the north east sensed they were gradually edging their way into the game.
Alexander had been virtually anonymous until the 64th minute, when he collected Rooney’s low left-footed drive. Suspicions were that Alexander would be worked more rigorously as the game approached its last 20 minutes. Aberdeen squandered a superb chance to equalise when Hayes’ low drive across goal was lashed high and wide by Considine from six yards.
Ward needed two attempts to stop Sow’s swerving shot from 25 yards, a sign that Hearts still had more to give as an attacking force. Their fans urged them forward but tiredness was a factor given the high tempo of their play for much of the tie. As time ticked away, Hearts dropped deeper towards their own penalty box. Alexander held McLean’s 81st-minute free-kick as frustration grew within the away camp.
The goalkeeper did well to deny McGinn in the dying seconds and then held a header from Ash Taylor. Tempers flared in stoppage-time when Aberdeen refused to return the ball to the opposition after an injury, and both Paterson and Alexander received late yellow cards. However, Hearts held on to take their place in Monday’s draw for the Scottish Cup fifth round.
Hearts (4-4-2): Alexander; Paterson, Ozturk, Augustyn, Rossi; Buaben, Pallardo, Djoum, Nicholson; Reilly, Sow.
70: King for Nicholson
80: Juanma for Reilly
88: McGhee for Sow
Unused subs: Hamilton, Oshaniwa, Buchanan, Zanatta.
Aberdeen (4-2-3-1): Ward; Logan, Taylor, Reynolds, Considine; Flood, Shinnie; McGinn, McLean, Hayes; Rooney.
37: Pawlett for Flood
71 Goodwillie for Considine
Unused subs: Brown, Smith, Robson, Quinn, Storie.
Referee: John Beaton