By Euan Wood
Two first half goals and one after half-time guided Hearts to a comfortable 3-0 Premier Sports Cup victory over League One side Cove Rangers in their first home game with supporters in over a year.
Andy Halliday netted his first goal of the season before Liam Boyce fired home on the stroke of half-time. Gary Mackay-Steven would punish a Cove mistake early in the second half to earn Robbie Neilson’s side the three points. Hearts extend their lead at the top of Group A with victory while Cove Rangers sit bottom of the table.
Fueled by the return of 2000 Hearts supporters, Neilson’s side started on the front foot with Josh Ginnelly coming close to the opener after three minutes. The pacey winger danced his way past the Cove defence before firing his effort at goal, but the away team managed to clear.
Hearts would open the scoring seconds later with a quick counter-attack. Michael Smith’s clearance found Mackay-Steven on the left and the winger’s low driven cross fell kindly to Halliday at the edge of the box. The midfielder made no mistake as he riffled his effort into the bottom right corner.
The hosts would double their advantage on the stroke of half-time. Smith’s cross was poorly dealt with and Boyce fired home from close range. A third was added early into the second half, Iain Vigurs’ pass in his own half easily intercepted by Mackay-Steven. He coolly placed his strike into the bottom right corner. Here are the three things we learned.
Cove Rangers manager Paul Hartley would’ve been looking to cause an early cup upset against his former side after spending a successful time at Tynecastle as a player. The former midfielder may have left with no points, but a spirited Cove performance will be encouraging ahead of what is a huge season for the League One side.
Perfect start for Hearts
Neilson’s team have opened their Premier Sports Cup campaign with two victories whilst scoring five, and conceding none. It’s a perfect start ahead of the Tynecastle club’s return to the Premiership.
New signings show their worth
New signings Ginnelly and Alex Cochrane impressed after playing a part in all three goals. Ginnelly spent last season on loan at Hearts from Preston looks to be a shrewd piece of business for Neilson side as he signs on a permanent deal this season.
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