Alan McLaren, Hearts’ young captain, spared his team from the trauma of extra time and possibly the dreaded penalty shoot-out by scoring late in this League Cup second-round clash at Tynecastle.
If the truth be told the Scottish internationalist’s goal also spared his chairman, Wallace Mercer, an embarrassing scenario.
Mercer and Jack Steedman, the owner of Clydebank, have not been seeing eye to eye recently over the Scottish Super League and some barbed comments have been flying around.
How sweet it would have been for Steedman had his side managed a surprise result here.
It would have taken days for the smile to run away from his face.
However, Steedman and his team were able to leave Edinburgh without having been disgraced after having survived most of Hearts’ attacks which died because of wayward finishing and the excellence of Clydebank keeper Steve Woods, who was freed by Hibs at the end of last season.
The tie was played in atrocious weather conditions with the rain pouring down for most of the match, which was unfortunate for Clydebank’s small band of followers, who were out in the open.
Still, it could have been worse had Hearts converted a decent proportion of the chances created and given their own fans, who made up the bulk of the 5758 audience, something to enjoy.
Instead, they trudged away from the ground wondering if it had been worth the effort.
The football gets you like that sometimes.
Had it been someone other than Tosh McKinlay who lunged at a ball turned back into the danger area by Scott Crabbe the Tynecastle side might have been in front after only a matter of seconds.
However, McKinlay couldn’t control it properly and Clydebank’s keeper Steve Woods was able to smother the ball.
The treacherous conditions more than any malice on the part of Ken Eadie were responsible for the Clydebank player’s untidy tackle on Crabbe, who was left on the ground holding a leg.
Eadie was booked, but may himself been something of a victim.
However, there was nothing innocent about Kenny Wilson’s tackle on Crabbe, who was caught waist high.
Wilson also was booked but his punishment could have been more severe.
The second half had not been in flow long when Derek Ferguson had to go off for treatment to a facial injury.
He reappeared several minutes later and Hearts continued their pursuit of a goal and got it on 79 minutes through their young defender.
Hearts: Smith, McLaren, McKinlay, Levein, Hogg, Mackay, Robertson, Ferguson, Baird, Wright, Crabbe. Substitutes: Foster, Snodin.