By: Hibernian Media on 11 Sep, 2018 09:45
The Hibernian Development Squad fell to a 2-1 defeat against Hearts Reserves in the first match of the SPFL Reserve Cup Group Stage on Monday afternoon at Oriam.
Both sides were reduced to ten men in the keenly contested, and at times boisterous, derby match, which began at a frenetic pace with the teams struggling to retain possession for lengthy periods of time.
Despite this, the players in each team were both flooding forward when they could to try to get a foothold in the game – albeit with neither goalkeeper seriously tested.
Fraser Murray’s wicked low ball fizzed across the six yard box early on, before Harry Cochrane fired over from 25 yards for Hearts.
The Hearts Reserves were filled with older players and those with significant first team exposure, and it began to show as they utilised the ball better in the midfield to apply pressure to the young Hibernian defence.
A couple of crosses were dealt with before Anthony MacDonald’s effort was saved by Maciej Dabrowski – the lead was taken with the next attack.
Craig Wighton was able to cut the ball back for Arnoud Djoum and the Cameroonian international teed up Danny Amankwaa to curl home an inch-perfect finish in the 16th minute.
Just as it looked like the screw was about to be turned by Hearts, the Development Squad came back into it as F.Murray skipped by a challenge down the left-wing before Christopher Hamilton’s lunging challenge saw him earn a straight red card.
With the numerical advantage Hibernian began to play with a bit more zest as they took the game to Hearts, but often struggled to get through the rigid and compact defence.
A fantastic switch of play allowed F.Murray to bring the ball down and get a shot away at Kevin Silva which he saved, before the goalkeeper breathed a sigh of relief as he saw Sean Mackie’s powerful effort from 30 yards out whistle wide of the upright.
Two minutes before the break, an equaliser was found. A great attack saw the ball slipped into Kane O’Connor’s path on the right-wing and the 17-year-old picked out F.Murray with a fantastic cross to the back post where the midfielder sent a header into the back of the net.
The second half began as the first had ended; Hibernian on top with Hearts looking to break forward on the counter.
Hibs’ Development Squad created a few opportunities, with nothing more clear-cut than a cross – before the game winning moment hinged on two attacks.
The first, in the 62nd minute, saw Lewis Allan bursting clear and, with options in the box, the forward attempt to beat Silva at his near-post but could only hit the side-netting from the edge of the area.
From the resulting goal kick, Hearts Reserves were able to regain the lead. The ball found Wighton and the former Dundee man was able to move away from two tackles before lifting the ball high into the net to restore the advantage.
To compound matters, Hibernian were also reduced to ten men when Josh Campbell received a second yellow for a robust challenge on Cochrane in the centre of the park two minutes after the goal.
This ensured that the game opened up a bit more once again, as both sides tested the resolve of the defences with crosses into the box and efforts on goal.
Chasing the game, Hibernian were more dangerous as the match reached its conclusion, but, they were unable to snatch a late equaliser.
Jamie Gullan, impressive down the left for Hibernian, saw a strike from outside the box skip wide of the target before Ryan Shanley’s snapshot on the turn was saved by Silva as the game ended with Hearts claiming all three points from the first match of the Group Stage.
The next game for Hibernian Development Squad will be another Edinburgh Derby against Hearts Reserves, this time in the SPFL Reserve League. The match will take place on Monday 24 September at Oriam with a 2pm kick-off.
Hibernian Development Squad: Dabrowski, O’Connor, Mackie, Campbell, Stirling, Waugh, F.Murray, I.Murray (Shanley, 84), Allan, Gullan, Yeats. Substitutes not used: Martin, Woods, Paton.
Image: Maurice Dougan.