New Hearts arrival Alex Cochrane scores in debut win at Spartans as Ann Budge looks on

Alex Cochrane made a goalscoring first appearance for Hearts in a 7-0 friendly victory against Spartans at Ainslie Park.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 9:53 pm
Alex Cochrane looked comfortable on his first Hearts outing.
Alex Cochrane looked comfortable on his first Hearts outing.

The Brighton and Hove Albion defender finalised a season-long loan at Tynecastle Park on Monday and found the net on his first maroon outing in front of several hundred fans in this pre-season warm-up encounter.

He started at left wing-back in a 3-4-3 system and, along with Michael Smith on the opposite flank, was given licence to get forward as often as possible. He struck the sixth goal after 55 minutes of a rousing win against Lowland League opponents.

The 21-year-old Englishman looked composed on the ball with a good turn of pace and a will to produce the unexpected – witness a first-half volley from 25 yards which struck the Spartans goalframe.

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This was the second of two Hearts first-team friendlies on the same evening. The first ended in a comfortable 4-0 victory for the visitors against Civil Service Strollers at Christie Gillies Park courtesy of goals from Andy Halliday, Jamie Walker, Armand Gnanduillet, and Makenzie Kirk.

Manager Robbie Neilson took charge of the team for that encounter before dashing across to see the rest of his squad in action at the Spartans Community Complex. The Hearts owner Ann Budge was also in attendance. On a mild evening in the north of Edinburgh, the Premiership guests showed their potential.

This was the latest step on the road towards the beginning of season 2021/22 for Hearts, which comes on Saturday week in the Premier Sports Cup at Peterhead. They enjoyed an ideal start when Loic Damour crossed from the right for Liam Boyce to plant a downward header into the net, leaving Spartans goalkeeper Blair Carswell helpless.

The Northern Ireland forward claimed his second on 18 minutes when winger Gary Mackay-Steven sprinted through for a low cutback which was tapped home with ease.

Damour cut an energetic and influential figure spraying passes around midfield. Cochrane also made an impact, his dipping volley from wide left clattering the outside of Carswell’s right post on 25 minutes.

Spartans built several passing moves in the first period but Hearts’ intensity off the ball often proved overwhelming. After a couple of impressive saves, Carswell could do nothing to stop Craig Halkett heading the third goal from Damour’s free-kick near the interval.

Mackay-Steven stroked the fourth home from Mihai Popescu’s incisive through pass moments after the restart. He then turned provider for Damour, who converted a powerful fifth from a tight angle to finish a move started by Euan Henderson’s determined forward run.

Cochrane arrived at the back post to knock home the sixth goal from another Mackay-Steven delivery. Then the Scotland internationalist prodded Henderson’s pass beyond Carswell for a seventh with more than 30 minutes left.

Damour rattled a post as the tempo of play slowed in among the usual raft of late substitutions. There were plenty positives for Hearts come full-time – with Damour and Cochrane top of the list.

Spartans (4-2-3-1): Carswell; Herd (Caddow 62), Inglis, Bolochoweckyj, Maxwell; Woods, Smith; Dishington, Jones, Brown; Henderson.

Hearts (3-4-3): Stone (McFarlane 73); Halkett (Rathie 73), Flatman, Popescu; M Smith (Denholm 73), Damour, McGill (Aitken 73), Cochrane (Drysdale 73); Henderson, Boyce, Mackay-Steven (Pollock 59).

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