Stuart Taylor’s Accies got their SPFL Trust Trophy campaign underway with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Hearts ‘B’, thanks to the impact of substitute Andy Ryan.
Accies got off to the best possible start when, after just four minutes, Miko Virtanen headed in a cross from Kyle Munro, which looped over the outstretched arms of Hearts keeper Ross Stewart.
It was a frantic, energetic start from both the youthful sides, trading chances as the first-half wore on. Makenzie Kirk missed a gilt-edged chance for the visitors and David Moyo even had a speculative bicycle kick blocked at close range by Luke Rathie.
The game was held up near half time when Virtanen and Shaun Want clashed heads in a tackle. Blood might not show on a maroon jersey, but it does on red and white hoops – with Want covered in claret. That was to be the end of proceedings for Want, who was stretchered off.
There was to be one more chance before the break when Moyo and Josh Mullin combined – only for the former to be foiled as he attempted to volley in the former Livi winger’s cross.
Hearts started the livelier of the two sides after the break, but it was Hamilton who had the first chance when Ross Stewart had to look lively to tip the Mullin’s free-kick around the post.
However, it would be the visitors who struck next. Hearts won the ball back in Accies territory and shipped it left to Leo Watson, who curled in a beautiful cross for Makenzie Kirk to power home a header on the 61st minute
They would take the lead just moments later. Hearts won it back from the restart, with Aidan Denholm galloping forward – he then leathered the ball low beyond Fulton from outside the area to give the wee Jambos the lead.
With 20 minutes to go, Lewis Spence settled some Accies nerves. Andy Ryan beat Ross Stewart to the ball, rounding the ‘keeper and squaring to Spence, whose shot trundled into the corner of the net.
Kyle Munro almost put Accies ahead a few minutes later. Skipping inside from the right, he rifled an effort towards the top corner – but Ross Stewart was equal to it.
Ryan turned from provider to scorer to put the Accies ahead in the 77th minute. A brilliant ball over the top found the number 9 who controlled nicely, shifted it onto his left and curled a left footed effort in off the post.
It is always difficult to face ‘colt’ sides, effectively facing the unknown. They could name a couple over-age players, they could name a team of kids. However, even the latter doesn’t always present an easy option.
In fact, Hearts put up quite the test and gave Accies a real run for their money thanks to clinical finishing and strong running from Euan Henderson.
However, Taylor utilised his bench to full effect with Andy Ryan in particular shining when he came on – setting up the equaliser and scoring the eventual winner. With Shaun Want having gone off, both teams benefitted from an additional ‘concussion substitute’
Also pleasing for Taylor was the performance of Kyle Munro – the young winger making his return from injury.
Hamilton: Fulton ©; Virtanen (Spence 51′), Stirling, MacDonald, Smith (Redfern 68′), Want (Matheson 45+2’), Mullin, Stanger, Mimnaugh, Moyo (Ryan 61’)
Subs unused : Hilton; Easton, McGowan
Hearts: Stewart; Rathie, Flatman, Docherty; C. Smith ©, McGill, Denholm, Watson; Pollock, Kirk (Tait 85’), Henderson
Subs unused: Hambrook, Thomas, Gordon, Beagley
Referee: Chris Graham Assistants: Graham McNeillie & Ross Birrell