An entertaining affair saw Tynecastle progress at the expense of Spartans in the second round of the John Miners Cup. A battling performance from the home side could not prevent the superior Tynecastle outfit progressing in calm but cold conditions at the Arboretum.
Tynecastle couldn't have dreamed of a better start taking to the task with alacrity before opening the scoring almost instantly. The tricky Liam McCue was found advancing in space down the left flank and his accurate square ball found Tynecastle hitman Paul Smith who produced a clinical side footed finish into the bottom right hand corner.
The early goal certainly appeared to dent the confidence of the home side, as Tynecastle continued in the same vein looking extend their one goal advantage.
Another well worked move down the left wing resulted in a firm effort from full back Blair Ross and his effort stung the palms of Ben Ritchie in the Spartans goal.
Tynecastle were controlling possession with Spartans struggling to break into the visitors half. Tynecastles imperious number ten Charlie Green, and the impressive Ross Young in the centre of midfield were the fulcrum to Tynecastles vice like grip on the tie. Both players were always available to receive the ball showing great spatial awareness finding pockets of space before releasing a forward thinking pass.
It was the former who was next to threaten after finding space on the edge of the area Green dug out a right footed effort which was held well by Ritchie.
McCue who provided the assist for the opener was involved again shortly after finding Daniel Lock in the inside right channel. The winger struck his effort well but Ritchie was equal to it, palming the ball into the air before collecting.
Tynecastles relentless pressure finally paid off as they deservedly doubled their advantage. Christopher Finnie had room on the right hand side to whip in a delicious ball causing havoc in the home defence. The vigilant Smith was on hand to double his and his teams tally, slotting the ball home from close range.
Spartans were still struggling to gain a foot hold in the game, but a rare foray forward instigated by the talented John Balde resulted in an effort at goal. Balde showed skill and tenacity harassing the visitors defence before the ball fell to midfielder Matteo Crolla who tried his luck from distance but Aiden Black in the Tynecastle goal held comfortably.
Tynecastle were back on the front foot shortly afterwards, Green executed exemplary control on his chest with his back to goal. He then fed the ball out the left channel where Craig Turnbull delivered a precise cross where Smith looking for a hatrick timed his run well however his glanced header flew narrowly over.
McCue who had previously been provider went for glory himself in Tynecastles next attack. After a dazzling run from the diminutive winger, showing quick feet inside the box he unleashed a shot towards the near post but Ritchie was on hand to tip it over the bar denying the attacker a goal to remember.
The home side began to impose themselves on the game shortly afterwards with substitutions from both sides perhaps being the instigating factor. Green had to leave the field for Tynecastle to receive treatment and was replaced. Meanwhile for Spartans Luke McMahon replaced Luke Cormack who had put in a tireless shift in attack.
And it was the Spartans substitute who would haul his team back into the game. The home side had began to enjoy more possession in final third and when the ball broke to Cormack on the edge of the area the frontman displayed excellent technique caressing a curling left footed effort over the goal keeper and into the back of the net.
Spartans were galvanised after reducing the arrears as the game became a more balanced affair. The home side nearly undone there good work moments before halftime however, the hungry Smith showed great awareness to latch on to an intended back pass but somewhat surprisingly the inform striker lashed his right foot effort wide of the target.
The half time whistle sounded with Tynecastle holding a deserved lead however the home side could take courage from the fact they had reduced the deficit in the tie to one. The game was nicely poised in anticipation of the second half.