Hearts 3-1 Cowdenbeath. Young Jambos progress in Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup

Daniel Baur opened the scoring for Hearts at Prestonfield
Daniel Baur opened the scoring for Hearts at Prestonfield
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Hearts Colts eliminated League Two opposition from the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup for the second week running after scoring three times in the closing 20 minutes to secure a 3-1 victory over Cowdenbeath.

Hearts Colts eliminated League Two opposition from the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup for the second week running after scoring three times in the closing 20 minutes to secure a 3-1 victory over Cowdenbeath.

Andy Kirk’s youngsters, who defeated Albion Rovers 4-1 at Cliftonhill a week previously, always looked the likelier winners at Prestonfield, the home ground of Linlithgow Rose, but they had to wait until the final quarter to make their superiority count through goals from Daniel Baur, Aidan Keena and Dario Zanatta, who produced a scintillating second-half display.

“We were excellent from start to finish,” said coach Kirk. “I couldn’t fault them - they were brilliant. Dario was unplayable in the second half and I thought Chrissy Hamilton was immense at the back, but there were good performances all over the pitch.”

The Hearts team featured plenty recognisable names, with goalkeeper Harry Stone and midfielder Dean Ritchie the only two players in the starting line-up yet to play for the first team.

Cowdenbeath, who lost 2-0 to Hearts’ senior team in the Betfred Cup last month, had the first attempt of the match when Fraser Mullen, a former Jambos youngster, saw a free kick from 20 yards out well blocked by Stone.

Hearts’ first chance of the evening came a minute later when Bobby Burns, playing left-wing-back in a 3-4-3, smashed a powerful left-foot shot inches wide from the edge of the box after getting on the end of a cutback from Cammy Logan. Keena then drilled agonisingly wide of Kevin Dabroswki’s right-hand post after the ball broke to him just inside the box following a driving run from Zanatta. A pass from Harry Cochrane then set up Logan just inside the penalty box just before the half hour but his shot was well saved by Dabrowski.

McDonald was left aggrieved shortly before the break when he ran on to Dean Ritchie’s pass and chipped the ball over Dabrowski only to see the linesman’s flag raised for offside. Video footage suggested the goal should have stood. Hearts threatened at the start of the second half when Hamilton’s header from a McDonald free kick was saved by Dabrowski. At the other end, Cowdenbeath substitute Jordyn Sheerin had a goal ruled out for a push.

Zanatta and Logan both went close to breaking the deadlock before Hearts won a penalty in 59 minutes when Zanatta went down under a challenge by Jamie Todd. Keena, who had missed a spot-kick against Albion in the previous round, watched in despair as his penalty was blocked by Dabrowski, the on-loan Hibs keeper who had also excelled in the aforementioned Betfred Cup tie.

The Pole then pulled off another couple of impressive saves to deny McDonald and Keena before Zanatta smacked a powerful shot against the post from the edge of the box.

The breakthrough came in the 70th minute when Baur met McDonald’s free kick at the far post and headed beyond Dabrowski.

Cowden’s hopes of a fightback were dented three minutes later when captain David Cox was shown a straight red card for a reckless lunge on Logan. The second goal came in 79 minutes when Keena forced a shot beyond Dabrowski from eight yards out after being set up by a cross from Burns.

Zanatta put the outcome beyond doubt two minutes later when he cut in from the right and despatched a clinical left-footed shot beyond Dabrowski. Substitute Craig Barr pulled one back for Cowdenbeath when he fired home from a Mullen corner with four minutes left, but Hearts marched on.

Hearts Colts: Stone, Logan, Baur, Hamilton, Petkov, Burns, Ritchie, Cochrane, Keena, McDonald, Zanatta. Subs: Spratt, C Smith, Currie, Ward, Makovora, McGill, Charleston-King.