How Hearts' new signings fared with first starts and first goals in the Viaplay Cup win against Partick Thistle
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A debut goal for new Hearts signing Odel Offiah was the highlight of the Tynecastle side’s comfortable Viaplay Cup victory over Partick Thistle. After completing a season-long loan from Brighton and Hove Albion on Friday, his header was sandwiched by Brian Graham’s own goal and Lawrence Shankland’s third. Substitute Kyosuke Tagawa then claimed his first goal in maroon to complete a 4-0 stroll.
Offiah was one of six changes to the Hearts team following the midweek Europa Conference League qualifying win over Rosenborg. He impressed the home crowd as Hearts eased into the competition’s last eight. Partick offered little as an attacking force if the truth be told, although for both clubs league progress is probably of greater importance in the months ahead.
This fixture was always going to struggle to match the excitement of Thursday in Gorgie. A healthy 1,300 Thistle fans gathered in the Roseburn Stand hoping their Championship side could shock Premiership opponents and earn a quarter-final place. Their team contained plenty experience in the form of midfielder Stuart Bannigan plus forwards Steven Lawless and captain Graham. Hearts loanee Lewis Neilson couldn’t face his parent club.
For all Graham’s years in the game, he couldn’t avoid scoring into the wrong net on 10 minutes. Alex Lowry’s corner was glanced on by Kye Rowles and the ball struck the striker to roll past Thistle goalkeeper David Mitchell into the net.
Offiah looked a strong presence at right-back with an obvious intent to attack and the pace to do so. His physicality stood out but he also displayed good technique and passing ability when in possession. He wasn’t tested too often defensively, so in that sense the sterner examinations have still to come.
The 20-year-old’s first taste of Scottish football became evermore memorable when he etched his name on the scoresheet before the interval. Another Lowry corner was met by the defender on the run for a powerful header which struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced over the line. An ideal way to mark any debut.
Kenneth Vargas was also enjoying his first competitive outing in maroon. He started wide on the right flank and occasionally alternated with Barrie McKay on the left. The Cosa Rican was instructed to dart into channels behind the visiting defence to exploit his speed and offer team-mates the option of a quick ball forward. He also showed a tenacity to fight for possession and hustle opponents.
Shankland claimed his fourth goal of the season early in the second half. He intercepted Aaron Muirhead’s attempted clearance following a short backpass and strolled through to make it 3-0. Tagawa added a fourth on 74 minutes with a confident finish following Lowry’s through pass.
That completed a straightforward afternoon for Hearts, who now look ahead to this Thursday’s visit from PAOK Salonika in the first leg of the Conference League play-off.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Clark; Offiah, Kent (Halliday 75), Rowles, Cochrane (Kingsley 60); Sibbick, Nieuwenhof (Denholm 60); Vargas, Lowry, McKay (Boyce 68); Shankland (Tagawa 60).
Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Mitchell; McMillan, Muirhead, Williams (Ngwenya 66), Milne; Williamson (Lyon 76), Bannigan; Lawless, McInroy (Stanway 76), Fitzpatrick; Graham (Adeloye 66).
Referee: John Beaton.