Hearts 2-1 Stoke City: Lawrence Shankland scores a debut double in Gary Locke's testimonial
Lawrence Shankland’s Hearts career started convincingly as the club’s new signing scored both goals on his debut against Stoke City at Tynecastle Park.
A crowd of 7,789 turned out for Gary Locke’s testimonial against English Championship opposition, with Shankland making an instant impression just days after signing a three-year contract.
The striker opened the scoring with a close-range finish in the first half and then converted a rebound after the break to put the hosts 2-0 ahead in what was a composed performance. Tyrese Campbell scored with only minutes remaining but that did not change the outcome.
Although this was Locke’s big day and he took pre-match applause on the pitch with his children, the emphasis from a football perspective was on final fine-tuning ahead of the new season. Hearts and Stoke start their respective league campaigns next Saturday, and this was the last pre-season outing for both teams.
Shankland and Kye Rowles both made their Tynecastle debuts from the start, whilst Stoke fielded the former Hibs loanee Harry Clarke and Scotland international forward Jacob Brown.
The City manager Michael O’Neill retains a home in Edinburgh and Hearts defender Michael Smith shared a pre-match embrace with his former Northern Ireland coach. When action began, the hosts’ patient passing game contrasted a more direct approach from their English counterparts.
Shankland found himself man-marked by the experienced England internationalist Phil Jagielka and consequently got little space. Stephen Kingsley, operating in the centre of a three-man defence, headed Alex Cochrane’s corner against the Stoke crossbar on 18 minutes.
Shankland evaded his marker and produced an instinctive finish to open the scoring on 43 minutes. Nathaniel Atkinson’s low right-sided cross was sent goalwards by Forrest and the striker jabbed out a foot to prod the ball beyond the Stoke goalkeeper Joe Bursik from close range. It was precisely the kind of poacher’s goal he was signed for.
A half-time penalty shootout involving Hearts players from yesteryear provided light entertainment as Gary Wales, Gary Mackay, Ian Black, Allan Johnston, Alan Lawrence, Roddy McKenzie, Dave McPherson, Sandy Clark, Ryan Stevenson and Jose Quitongo returned to Tynecastle.
Locke scored with one of his two efforts from the spot. Scoring chances in the actual game remained few and far between, however. At 1-0, Hearts were content and Stoke seemed bereft of the creative wherewithal to open them up and find an equaliser.
Clarke pounced on a slack pass by Rowles to tee up substitute Dwight Gayle but his first-time strike arced wide of Craig Gordon’s right post on 69 minutes. Shankland saw Bursik block two of his efforts and one from substitute Gary Mackay-Steven.
Gordon saved from the Stoke wing-back Josh Tymon’s before Shankland claimed his second. Substitute Finlay Pollock’s determined run on the right created an opening for the striker. His first effort was blocked but he volleyed the rebound home.
Stoke secured a consolation two minutes from the end through Campbell, but it was a day that belonged to both Shankland and Locke.
Hearts (3-4-2-1): Gordon; Halkett (Sibbick 75), Kingsley (Halliday 75), Rowles; Atkinson, Haring (Grant 60), M Smith (Pollock 80), Cochrane; Forrest (Boyce 60), McKay (Mackay-Steven 75); Shankland.
Stoke City (3-5-2): Bursik; Taylor, Jagielka, Wilmot; Clarke, Baker, Kilkenny (Smallbone 60), Laurent (Clucas 65), Tymon; Brown (Gayle 60), Campbell.
Referee: Nick Walsh.