Sam Nicholson scored as Hearts Under-20s ended their season with a convincing 3-1 win over Hibs – as fans were locked out of Riccarton’s Oriam indoor venue.
Nicholson opened the scoring early in the second half and Rory Currie’s penalty put Hearts 2-0 ahead. Fraser Murray’s volley reduced the deficit before Alistair Roy’s impressive solo goal secured victory for the home side.
Some supporters were refused entry to this mini Edinburgh derby on Bank Holiday Monday. Oriam’s indoor pitch seats 500 people but health and safety meant extra fans were not permitted.
They peered through glass from outside to see a feisty encounter which threatened to spill out of control in the second half. In the end, some clinical Hearts finishing proved to be the difference.
After a goalless first half, Hearts scored first on 51 minutes from a precise diagonal ball by the outstanding Lewis Moore. His fine delivery got to Nicholson – jeered by some fans when he came on during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Partick Thistle at Tynecastle after rejecting a contract extension – and the winger’s touch and deft, left-footed finish beat the Hibs goalkeeper Paddy Martin.
Twelve minutes later came the second and again Moore contributed heavily. The 18-year-old, currently on loan at Cowdenbeath, sprinted into the Hibs penalty area and was bundled over by centre-back Kevin Waugh. As referee Stewart Luke hesitated, his assistant Kevin McElhinney signalled a penalty. Currie converted from the spot to double Hearts’ advantage.
Hibs created several chances of their own but were too often wasteful in front of goal. Centre forward Oli Shaw caused the opposition defence problems in the first half but tired after the interval having scored both goals for loan club Stenhousemuir in a 2-0 win over Queen’s Park just 48 hours beforehand.
Murray’s volley from around 18 yards arced away from Hearts goalkeeper Viktor Noring to bring Hibs back into the game on 65 minutes and, at that stage, the Easter Road club were pressing to level the scores. Tackles flew in, leading to confrontations and referee Luke tried his best to maintain order.
Five minutes from time, Roy scored to put the result beyond doubt. He took substitute Callumn Morrison’s pass wide on the left and evaded Ryan Porteous near the byline. From the most acute angle, he then slotted the ball beyond Martin.
“I’m delighted for the players,” said Hearts Under-20 coach Jon Daly. “You can see with the crowd what it means to people in Edinburgh, even though it’s an under-20 fixture. The players responded to the decent crowd.
“We made some mistakes in the game but reacted well. It was a great result and a nice positive way to finish the season. I thought Moore caused problems because he’s very direct and his work rate is exceptional. He was one of a number of star performers for us today. His ball for Sam’s goal was on a sixpence.”
Hibs coach Grant Murray left Oriam disappointed to end the campaign with a defeat.
“The last game of the season is always one you want to win, especially against your derby opponents,” he said. “We’ve had a good season, I must admit, won a lot of games, played good football and had young guys making their first-team debuts.
“That’s the aim for any under-20 team but we’re disappointed to lose a derby. Once Hearts got the first goal, we were chasing them and they were able to pick us off.
“We had a couple of chances and a couple of shots but we didn’t work the goalkeeper enough. Hearts showed they were clinical and they played like it was a derby. It was feisty but that’s what you’re going to get. They aren’t always the prettiest games.”
Hearts: Noring; Brandon, Hamilton, Jones, Rherras; Nicholson (Zanatta 55), Petkov, Beith, Moore (Morrison 80); Roy, Currie (Paton 89). Unused subs: Mason, Akers, Henderson, Irving.
Hibs: P Martin; Donaldson, Porteous, Waugh, Mackie; Stirling, Scott; I Murray, Harris (Gullan 27), F Murray; Shaw. Unused subs: Watson, O’Connor, Smith, Paton, Dabrowski.