Arbroath 2-0 Hearts: Hosts see off experimental Jambos side in pre-season friendly

Hearts' first pre-season friendly ended in defeat at Arbroath by dint of goals from Luke Donnelly and Steven Doris.

Saturday, 29th June 2019, 4:52 pm
Arbroath goalscorer Luke Donnelly shields the ball from Hearts midfielder Ryan Edwards during the pre-season friendly at Gayfield.

Just a week since resuming training, the Edinburgh side utilised their first team and youth squad at Gayfield Park as they prepare for a trip to Ireland.

Donnelly's early finish opened the scoring and substitute Doris settled this affair in the dying moments. The victory gives Dick Campbell's team an encouraging result ahead of their Championship campaign. They were well organised and competitive throughout the 90 minutes, although the game was mainly played at a steady rather than frantic pace.

Hearts manager Craig Levein deployed two different teams, one in each half, to gently ease players back into action following the summer break. That meant first-team game time for several inexperienced teenagers, although new signings Conor Washington and Jamie Walker were not involved. Steven Naismith also did not feature.

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A humid day on the Angus coast created good footballing conditions under hazy cloud. Arbroath won last season's League One title to gain promotion to the Championship and took the game to Hearts early on.

On 21 minutes they moved ahead when Bobby Linn's run and cross was flicked into the net first-time from five yards by striker Donnelly. Levein instantly made a change by replacing 18-year-old right-back Jay Sandison with Cammy Logan, who is a year younger. Sandison had suffered a hamstring injury.

Hearts' first genuine opening came on 29 minutes when captain Christophe Berra ventured forward with the ball. He delivered a curling left-footed cross which striker Steven MacLean headed narrowly wide under pressure.

Ten minutes later came two opportunities in quick succession for the visitors. First, Connor Smith's through ball found Lewis Moore but the Arbroath goalkeeper Darren Jamieson blocked the youngster's shot with his legs. Moore retrieved and crossed to Harry Cochrane, whose first-time attempt from 18 yards was deflected clear by defender Ricky Little.

MacLean's intelligent clipped effort from outside the penalty area struck the bar before half-time as Hearts edged closer to an equaliser. Levein stuck to his pre-match plan by substituting everyone bar Logan during the interval. One of those introduced was 16-year-old left-back Leo Watson, who signed his first professional football contract just ten days ago.

Oliver Bozanic and Anthony McDonald both saw shots blocked at the back post early in the second half, however Arbroath remained resolute in defence. They also came close to a second goal when trialist right-back Ciaran Briar dispossessed Euan Henderson and dispatched an 18-yard drive narrowly wide of Colin Doyle's right post.

Hearts' substitute goalkeeper pulled off a superb save on 70 minutes to beat away a thunderous drive from Arbroath's Scott Stewart. At the opposite end, Euan Henderson cut inside from the left wing to fire a shot into Jamieson's arms.

Minutes from full-time, a through ball found Doris in space and he wasted no time dispatching it beyond Doyle to confirm Arbroath's triumph.

Arbroath (4-4-2): Jamieson; Briar (Wilson 61), Little, O'Brien, Hamilton; Kader (McKenzie 72), Stewart, Gold, Linn; Donnelly (Doris 61), Spence. Unused subs: Gaston, Waddell.

Hearts first half (4-3-3): Zlamal; Sandison (Logan 22), Hamilton, Berra, Hickey; Edwards, Cochrane, Smith; Moore, MacLean, Zanatta.

Hearts second half (4-3-3): Doyle; Logan (Brandon 63), Dikamona, Petkov, Watson; Clare, Burns, Bozanic; McDonald, Wighton, Henderson (Schiavone 86).

Referee: Mike Roncone.

Attendance: 1,056.