Hearts defeated Partick Thistle 2-0 in an entertaining pre-season friendly at a sunny Firhill Stadium on Friday afternoon.
There was no shortage of action in the first half, with the visitors creating several clear-cut opportunities in the early stages, before Thistle saw a goal controversially ruled out for offside after Salim Kouider-Aissa had a penalty saved by Craig Gordon.
Craigy-G 😍🙌 pic.twitter.com/RmoWKrAxAD
— Heart of Midlothian FC (@JamTarts) October 2, 2020
The frantic pace continued into the second half despite a raft of changes from the Jambos and after 15 minutes of attacks at both ends, it was Robbie Neilson’s side who opened the scoring through Jamie Walker.
Harry Cochrane fizzed a pass to Liam Boyce on the edge of the box just as Ciaran McKenna shot out of the Jags defence, and the Northern Ireland international laid the ball off to Walker, who opened his body and found the right corner with a fine finish.
Hearts took control thereafter and Andrew Irving secured the win with an excellent solo goal fifteen minutes from time. The midfielder showed dazzling feet to work some space before curling an unstoppable left-footed shot into the top left corner from the edge of the box.
Here are three things we learned:
Weakened Jags show fight in encouraging display
Ian McCall made wholesale changes to the side that drew with Ayr United earlier in the week and his team was further weakened when Tam O’Ware went off injured in the first half, but Thistle were still very competitive against a strong Hearts lineup.
The combative Mouhamed Niang impressed in midfield, while Joe Cardle and Blair Lyons caused the visitors problems in wide areas.
Thistle had a golden chance to take the lead in the 27th-minute but Kouider-Aissa’s penalty was beaten out by Gordon.
Just a few minutes later, Rhys Breen thought he’d broken the deadlock by turning in a corner at the back post, only to be denied by a very late offside flag, despite the flick-on appearing to come off a Hearts defender’s head.
The officials had a say again just before the break when referee Scott Lambie visibly changed his mind when primed to give the Jags a penalty after an apparent trip by Mihai Popescu on Lyons.
Hearts rusty in front of goal
The Jambos ran out comfortable winners in the end but had the starting XI brought their shooting boots, the game would have been over after 20 minutes.
Craig Wighton was guilty of failing to convert several good opportunities in the first half, with the worst miss coming in the 19th minute when he could only strike the post after being allowed to coast through on goal by the stricken O’Ware.
Steven Naismith was also guilty of spurning several chances, while the likes of Andy Halliday and Jordan Roberts fired over from the edge of the box.
Wright and Gordon impress
The two starting goalkeepers are at very different stages of their footballing careers.
Kieran Wright is looking to make a name for himself in the senior game on loan from Rangers, while Craig Gordon is the decorated international returning to his boyhood club.
Both impressed, though, with Wright making a string of impressive saves in the first period.
He was beaten by two fine finishes after the break but he stuck to his task and was still barking out orders and scrambling across his goal until the final whistle, ensuring the scoreline remained respectable.
Similarly, the result could have been very different had it not been for Gordon.
The ex-Celtic man wasn’t pressed into action as regularly as his opposite number, but he got a great hand to Kouider-Aissa’s spot-kick to save Craig Halkett’s blushes and pulled off a strong stop low to his right just prior to the interval, during which he was replaced by Bobby Zlamal.