Three things we learned from Cowdenbeath 0 - 2 Hearts

Analysis from Central Park as a much-changed Hearts side picked up their first win of the 2019/20 Scottish football season with a 0-2 victory in the Betfred Cup group stage.

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 7:34 pm
Anthony McDonald (centre) celebrates after putting Hearts 2-0 up.

Hearts are in an attacking mood

Through two Betfred Cup games Craig Levein has lined up with the same system. He's gone with an old-fashioned 4-4-2 with two wingers, two forwards and the attack-minded Sean Clare as part of the central midfield two. He's also encouraged the full-backs to get forward to support as this Hearts team is set up to get at opponents and get at them early.

It remains to be seen whether we'll see such a gung-ho set-up once the season starts, especially if Peter Haring fails to recover from injury and can't be the protective force in front of the defence that he usually is. But seeing as Hearts are playing exclusively lower league opposition in these League Cup games, why not set up the team to have a go?

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Anthony McDonald (centre) celebrates after putting Hearts 2-0 up.

Away to Aberdeen on the first game of the league season, a midfield duo of Clare and Oli Bozanic with little help from elsewhere would be in danger of being overrun. Against League Two Cowdenbeath they are more than good enough to set a platform for the attacking players in front of them to thrive, which is exactly what they did.

How they've only scored three times is a mystery

If you thought Hearts had missed some glorious chances on Friday then you want to have seen this one. While their general attacking play went above and beyond even what you would expect from a Premiership team going to a League Two side, one aspect that was still lacking was the finishing.

In the opening 16 minutes the visitors created seven strong chances to score but took just one of them. Anthony McDonald's cool finish a short time later ensured there would no nervousness in this match and, in terms of the game, it didn't really matter how many openings they spurned. They still won and won comfortably.

However, a football team still doesn't want to fall into any bad habits, even if they come against part-time hosts who're just happy they've avoided a cricket score. It'll be something Hearts will look to improve on in the remaining two games as they seek to build up confidence in front of goal before the trip to Pittodrie. In fairness to the misfiring forwards on this occasion, they did meet a goalkeeper in Maciej Dabrowski who was in great form. This was honoured with a round of applause from the Hearts support when his man-of-the-match award was announced.

It's certainly not often that Hearts fans clap a Hibs (loan) player.

Craig Halkett won't have an easier debut

The summer signing from Livingston could have strolled around with a cigar in his mouth for most of this match. Cowdenbeath asked a couple of early questions with crosses into the box, but these were dealt with comfortably by Halkett and Christophe Berra. Hearts, by that point, were already asserting their dominance and they would soon roar into a lead that was in no danger of being troubled. From there there wasn't much for the 24-year-old to do other than help Berra organise the players around them and keep concentration levels high.

There was also the little matter of a debut goal. Halkett showed great determination to steal a yard on his man as he sprinted for the front post before planting Bozanic's cross into the back of the net. A debut goal and he only had to wait just over seven minutes for it.