Hearts debrief: Craig Halkett display, Peter Haring v Michael Smith, bizarre linesmen calls

Hearts advanced to the knockout stages of the Premier Sports Cup with a 2-0 win over Stirling Albion at Forthbank Stadium

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 1:12 pm
Craig Halkett and Finlay Pollock impressed for Hearts. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Player of the match

It was a professional rather than spectacular performance from Hearts, both individually and collectively. However, Craig Halkett, having been tested by the pace and power of Dylan Bikey early on, impressed throughout. Centre of a back three suits the defender’s strengths. He covered well and as that last line of defence made a superb block from Dale Carrick at the start of the second half just when it appeared the former Hearts striker was about to level the match.

Key moment

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It could easily be Halkett’s block on Carrick or Gary Macaky-Steven’s sumptuous backheel through the legs of Jordan McGregor to set up Liam Boyce for the opening goal. However, it has to be Finlay Pollock’s first ever goal for the club, coming off the bench to convert Alex Cochrane’s centre. It was yet another milestone for the 17-year-old early in his career and Robbie Neilson was understandably effusive in his praise of the teenager after the match.

Ref watch

Gavin Irvine had a relatively nondescript evening. The same can't be said for his linesmen. One of the assistants faced the wrath of John Souttar, Halkett and Craig Gordon for not flagging early enough for an offside, while there was a moment an offside was given for a pass which went backwards. On the other side, Stirling were thwarted by an offside flag despite Michael Smith, lying on the ground, playing Dylan Bikey on by about ten yards.

Benefit of hindsight

It appeared a number of Hearts fans would like to go back in time when they were weighing up parting with £10 to watch the Stirling Albion stream of the game. By and large, most would have opted not to watch the game such was the difficulty presented by the footage.

Moment you may have missed

Peter Haring v Michael Smith. It's not an argument Hearts fans would have thought they’d ever see, or want to see. But the pair shared some words towards the end of the first half. Nothing too serious but it showed both the frustration of a difficult first 45 and hopefully for Hearts the desire amongst the players for perfection.

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