Tuesday 11 July 2017, 19.30, Kings Park
The friendly watching continued with a trip to see East Premier League side Dalkeith Thistle against Scottish Premier League Hearts’ under 20 side.
We haven’t seen Dalkeith Thistle since pre-season last year when they played Linlithgow Rose, although we have been to Kings Park several times to watch other games.
Dalkeith have threatened a few times in recent seasons to make the East Superleague, but haven’t quite got there. They reached the play-off in 2013/14, but were soundly beaten by Kelty Hearts. They have finished the last two seasons in seventh spot.
Thistle have made a number of signings for the new season, namely midfielders Darren Leslie from Arniston Rangers, James Laing from Danderhall Miners, Jordan Bain from Whitburn Juniors, young goalkeeper Jack Findlay from their own youth side, striker Kenny McMillan from Easthouses Lily and Lewis Cairns returns to the club following a lengthy injury.
We’ve not seen the Hearts youngsters in action for a while, with them now playing their home games in Stenhousemuir. They had four trialists in their starting eleven for the game.
Despite it raining all day, it was a warm summer’s evening in Midlothian.
Poor planning meant we missed the opening minutes.
Hearts looked to be on the front foot in the first action we saw.
With 11 minutes gone, Thistle made a foray forward and Bain picked the ball up on the left. He crossed into the box where it came to Laing at the back post and after it had bounced, he headed into the net to give Dalkeith the lead.
Some good football by Sylla a minute later as he broke from half way saw him pass to Morrison on the left. He crossed to the back post where Moore headed back to Beith who saw his well struck shot pushed around the post by a fine McQueen save.
Keena had the ball in the net for Hearts in 13 minutes, but he was judged to have been in an offside position when he headed home.
Beith passed inside to Moore in 19 minutes and he slid a pass through the home defence for Sylla who slotted home to level the score.
A good ball into the box by Dalkeith’s Murray in 22 minutes saw McMillan run towards the ball but Sandison got there first, although he almost diverted the ball into his own net.
Reid found himself on the edge of the Dalkeith box in 24 minutes and went past the challenge of the Dalkeith trialist, but his shot was deflected wide by the alert McNeill.
Hamilton had a shot at the Thistle goal in 26 minutes, but McQueen was down to block. Moments later he saved again, turning a shot wide.
In 28 minutes, Sylla took the ball to the edge of the Dalkeith box, but his shot was comfortably saved by McQueen.
With half an hour gone, Morrison won the ball for Hearts and gave it to Petkov. He returned the ball to Morrison who was through on goal and McQueen made another decent stop. This time though, Keena was onto the rebound and hammered the ball into the net to put Hearts in front.
Some great skill by Hearts’ Hamilton in 33 minutes saw him go past two defenders on the edge of the box before he flicked the ball into the path of Moore who drove the ball into the net to make it 3-1.
Sylla showed quick feet in 34 minutes when he dropped his shoulder at the edge of the Dalkeith box then thumped a shot off the post.
Good control by Keena in 35 minutes saw him go past a Thistle defender before he unselfishly laid the ball off to Moore. He shot straight at McQueen who saved with his feet.
Hearts continued to put the pressure on and a minute later Beith found Morrison on the corner of the box. He quickly struck for goal and despite McQueen getting his fingers to it, it flew into the top corner for Hearts’ fourth goal of the night.
Laing crossed from the left into the Hearts box in 37 minutes – it took a deflection and spun across the face of goal with Penman scrambling to get there, but it went harmlessly away.
In 39 minutes Tansey swung the ball into the Hearts box from the left side and picked out McMillan who was all on his own. The big striker headed the ball downwards but made very poor contact and it bounced up, straight to Penman. Somehow though, Penman let the ball go right through his hands and over his head into the net.
That was the last action of an entertaining first half which Hearts had threatened to run away with after Dalkeith had opened the scoring. The home side’s second gave them some hope for the second half.
One of Dalkeith’s half time substitutes, wearing number 12, seemed to be wearing some form of glasses.
With 52 minutes gone Petkov found Morrison on the right for Hearts. He went past Robertson and crossed to the back post. Keena took the ball down and set it up for Moore who saw his shot come back off the underside of the bar, before the defence cleared.
Keena latched onto a through ball in 53 minutes, but his shot was wide of the Dalkeith goal.
Hearts were still looking for goals and Moore got to the Thistle by-line in 54 minutes before cutting the ball back for Sylla. His shot was weak though, and McQueen gathered.
In 55 minutes, Bain crossed to the back post in a Dalkeith attack and found Laing, but his shot was well over the bar.
A great measured pass by Keena into the path of Sylla in the Thistle box in 57 minutes gave the striker a chance and he struck a low shot into the net for his second to make it 5-2 to Hearts.
Reid crossed into the Thistle box in 62 minutes for Keena, but under pressure he couldn’t get his header on target.
The game started to become disjointed as the inevitable raft of substitutions began.
A great ball by Dalkeith’s Hunter to Muir in 68 minutes sent him away on the right, but his cross was deflected behind by Logan. From the corner, McMillan headed over.
Dalkeith’s number 17 was complaining to the ref in 79 minutes and told him that “you never give me nothing!”
Dalkeith broke forward in 83 minutes and Wales gave the ball to Bain on the left, but his shot from a tight angle was off target.
Roy came into the Dalkeith box in 86 minutes and went past a couple of defenders before squaring the ball to Henderson who fired into the net via McQueen for Hearts’ sixth.
Dalkeith’s number 17 had a go from distance in 87 minutes, but it was a comfortable save for Penman.
Some good passing in 89 minutes by Hearts ended with Smith putting the ball into the path of Henderson, but he shot wide of the far post.
As the time reached 90 minutes Roy charged into the Dalkeith half and went all the way into the box, but his shot was acrobatically saved, and held, by McQueen.
In injury time Roy used his quick feet to create some space in the Dalkeith box, but his shot was deflected over by Bain.
An entertaining evening, particularly in the first half before all the substitutions disrupted the flow of the game. Hearts played some great stuff and looked sharp and quick. I’m sure they benefited from it being their fourth game of the summer. It was Thistle’s first friendly and they were probably lacking a bit of sharpness, but there will be few teams of Hearts quality they will face at Kings Park in the season to come.
Tansey showed some good touches for the home side and Robertson put in a good shift at full back. Hearts attackers all looked good with Sylla’s willingness to run at defenders and Keena’s hold up play, ably assisted by the width of both Moore and Morrison who looked like they could run riot in the opening period.
The pitch at Kings Park needs to get a mention again. Fantastic work being done by the groundsman there.
Full Time: Dalkeith Thistle 2 Hearts Under 20s 6
Dalkeith Thistle: 1 James McQueen, 2 Shaun Murray, 4 Callum McNeill, 5 Trialist (12 45), 3 John Robertson, 7 Duncan Muir, 8 James Laing (16 63), 6 Michael Hunter (Whitson 73), 11 Jordan Bain, 9 Kenny McMillan (17 45), 10 Paul Tansey (Wales 63). Subs: 12 Ryan, 14 Dean Whitson, 15 Blake Wales, 16 , 17 Stu?
Hearts Under 20s: 1 Blair Penman(T), 2 Jay Sandison, 5 Bartlomiej Gajda(T) (Grigor 77), 4 Chris Hamilton (Roy 65), 3 Aaron Reid (Logan 61), 7 Callumn Morrison (Akers 73), 8 Alex Petkov, 6 Angus Beith (Rirchie 73), 11 Lewis Moore (Smith 65), 9 Aidan Keena(T) (McDonald 77), 10 Soriba Sylla(T) (Henderson 65). Subs: 12 Alastair Roy, 13 Kelby Mason, 14 Anthony McDonald, 15 Connor Smith, 16 Dean Ritchie, 17 Euan Henderson, 18 Zidan Akers, 19 Cammy Logan, 20 Josh Grigor.
Referee: Iain Snedden
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