Betfred Cup: Hearts 2 Dunfermline 2: 29/07/17

For this final Group B match in the Betfred Cup Dunfermline were without Nicky Clark (ankle) and Dean Shiels. Into the side came Nat Wedderburn and 17 year old Callum Smith. As virtue of Hearts defeat in Peterhead on Tuesday a draw would be enough to see the Fifers top the section but clearly their hosts would have other ideas.

Hearts manager Ian Cathro said in his programme notes that four matches in two weeks can have its problems but he claimed that his side had prepared well for this encounter and they believed that they could win and top the group. The Jambos brought in Jamie Brandon and 28 year old Cameroonian Armand Djoum while Friday`s signing Connor Randall was on the bench.

It was a winner takes all scenario since should Peterhead win at Elgin then they would take second place and Hearts needed a win and Dunfermline a draw to top the group.

A heavy shower during the warm ups sent the travelling support scurrying into the upper half of the Roseburn stand. Kyle Laffferty got the match underway in bright sunshine with Hearts attacking the goal at the Roseburn end. Kallum Higginbotham and Ryan Williamson both made early intrusions into the Hearts box but the first danger came on two minutes when Isma Gonçalves blasted an effort off Callum Morris and behind for a corner that was successfully defended.

The Hearts keeper Jack Hamilton came out to pluck a tenth minute cross from Higginbotham out of the air. Another Higginbotham cross four minutes later after an exchange with Smith on the right side of the box, was again cleared amidst appeals for a push on Declan McManus n the edge of the six yards box.

There was more threat from the visitors when Michael Paton robbed Prince Bauben midway into the Hearts half but his subsequent shot from 20 yards out was blocked. Then in 19 minutes a quick counterattack with McManus feeding Joe Cardle for a slick pass out right for Smith was met by Cardle from the cut back and Hamilton had to dive to his right to hold.

But just as it looked like the Fifers would stand a great chance an equally swift forward move saw Don COWIE receive the ball on the edge of the Pars box and he crashed his low shot past Sean Murdoch for the 20th minute opener. 1-0

Hearts then had an opportunity from a 24th minute free kick and Gonçalves made a good job of protecting Djoum`s run into the right side of the box but fortunately his cross was cleared.

Then in 28th minute delight for Joe Cardle and the sun kissed Pars support. Higginbotham`s pass was gathered by CARDLE just inside the box and he showed great control to beat off John Souttar with first a right footed touch, a turn and then a low left footed shot that nestled in the bottom left of the Jambo`s net. 1-1

A 38th minute free kick was headed behind by Lafferty under pressure from Morris. Full back Michael Smith got to the byeline and sent the ball across goal but out for a throw in at the right corner flag. Hearts won possession back and Bauben had a worthwhile effort that was kept out.

A great save by Murdoch in 41st minute palming a Morris defensive header on to the crossbar and then a couple of great defensive displays from Cardle kept Hearts out.

The half time stats would show 62% home possession but the visitors had managed five shots on target to Hearts four. So at the break the scoreline suited Dunfermline in their quest to be in the hat for the draw on Sunday evening.

Half time: Hearts 1 Dunfermline 1

There were no changes to either side when Smith kicked off the second half. Hearts won a 47th minute corner when Morris was forced to blocked out Cowie from a Brandon pass but they wasted that opportunity.

Calum Smith created the next danger superbly beating Souttar down at the left corner flag and cutting back the ball into the centre of the box for Higginbotham. Hearts closed the chance down and McManus`s shot was blocked.

The 1132 Pars fans at Tynecastle were soon to be elated. Latching on to a long pass up the right from Higginbotham, Callum Smith brushed aside the challenge of Souttar and sprinted. He could have shot but squared for McMANUS who took the luxury of two taps to get the ball on to his right foot to release a shot that hit the net to the sheer delight of the Pars fraternity. 52 minutes on the clock and 2-1 to Dunfermline.

Williamson forced the Pars first corner of the game on the hour and although Lee Ashcroft could not connect with Higginbotham`s delivery it would keep Hearts in their own half a bit longer. Next a 63rd minute free kick on the right, level with the six yard box was held by Hamilton.

Scott Lochhead replaced Callum Smith three minutes later but there continued good Pars possession in the opposition half. Williamson sent over a cross from the right and when Cardle returned there were loud appeals from the Pars fans as McManus was spilled in the box as he challenged for the ball with Berra.

Hearts began to look way out of sorts exemplified by a bad choice by Nowak to cross instead of taking the corner kick that was coming. He thrashed the ball behind much to the chagrin of the home support. Same again when Gonçalves beat the offside trap but then picked out Murdoch with his cross.

Jordan McGhee blocked a powerful Lochhead effort in 81 minutes and then Murdoch fisted away a Hearts free kick. The minutes were slipping away from the Jambos but the Lochhead conceded a free kick 25 yards out and Lafferty`s drove was cleared off the heel of Cardle. That raised a cheer from the travelling support who were ready to celebrate a famous win, but there was to be a fight to the end.

A 85th minute corner on the right was sent over by sub Martin, Murdoch fisted out only as far as Lafferty but Wedderburn headed behind for a corner on the left. When the ball came over there was a scramble and GONÇALVES managed to net from the melee. 2-2

In the second minute of added one there was one almighty miss from Stockton. Ashcroft and Berra crunched in front of the Pars goal and another corner transpired from the left. But when Stockton had a glorious chance the ball was sent over.

The match would be decided on penalties but Dunfermline had already topped the group.

1 Michael Paton scored low right
2 Jordan McGhee over the bar 0-1
3 Scottt Lochhead scored left 0-2
4 Kyle Lafferty in off right post 1-2
5 Declan McManus centre saved by Hamilton
6 Malauray Martin high and wide right 1-2
7 Nat Wedderburn with left foot smashed in right 1-3
8 Don Cowie sent ball over the top

Pars take the two points for winning on penalties. Cue a huge and very vocal celebration by the Fife fans and the players. Nobody appeared to want to leave, it was just a shame that the late equaliser denied Dunfermline their first win at Tynecastle for 27 years.
HEARTS: Jack Hamilton: Jordan McGhee, John Souttar (Krystian Nowak 53), Christophe Berra, Michael Smith: Don Cowie, Prince Buaben (Cole Stockton 60), Arnaud Djoum (Malaury Martin 74), Jamie Brandon, Isma Gonçalves, Kyle Lafferty
SUBS NOT USED: Ashley Smith-Brown, Rory Currie, Connor Randall, Viktor Noring (GK)
SCORERS: Cowie (20), Gonçalves (86)

DUNFERMLINE: Sean Murdoch: Ryan Williamson, Callum Morris (c), Lee Ashcroft, Lewis Martin: Kallum Higginbotham, Michael Paton, Nat Wedderburn, Joe Cardle (Jean-Yves M`Voto 89): Declan McManus, Callum Smith (Scott Lochhead 66)
SUBS NOT USED: Aaron Splaine, Jason Talbot, Conner Duthie, Cammy Gill (GK)
SCORERS: Cardle (28), McManus (52)
YELLOW CARD: Wedderburn (55), Lochhead (86)

REFEREE: Craig Thomson
WEATHER: Sunny 20C

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Livingston, Saturday 5th August 2017. 3.00pm kick off at Tony Macaroni Arena.

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