News Archive 2011/12

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16th July 2011 Whitehill Welfare v Hearts U19s

19-23 July 2011 Foyle Cup 2011

19th July 2011 Vale of Leithen v Hearts XI

22nd July 2011 Penicuik Athletic v Hearts U19s

25th July 2011 Dunbar United v Hearts XI

29th July 2011 Hearts U19s v Newcastle United Academy

30thJuly 2011 Tynecastle FC v Hearts XI

6th Aug 2011 Musselburgh Athletic v Hearts U19s

13th Aug 2011 Motherwell U19s v Hearts U19s

18th Aug 2011 Jordan McGhee – Scotland U16s

18th Aug 2011 HYDC 20th Anniversary – Joe Jordan Presentation

20th Aug 2011 Hearts U19s v Dundee Utd U19s

27th Aug 2011 Rangers U19s v Hearts U19s

31st Aug 2011 New Signing – Callum Tapping

3rd Sep 2011 Hearts U19s v Aberdeen U19s

16th Sep 2011 Hearts U19s v Celtic U19s

30th Sep 2011 HYDC Autumn Newsletter – 2011

1st Oct 2011 Kilmarnock U19s v Hearts U19s

8th Oct 2011 Hearts U19s v Hibernian U19s

15th Oct 2011 Hearts U19s v St Johnstone U19s

22nd Oct 2011 Hearts U19s v St Mirren U19s

29th Oct 2011 Hearts U19s v Dunfermline Athletic U19s

1st Nov 2011 Inverness Caledonian Thistle U19s v Hearts U19s

5th Nov 2011 Hearts U19s v Rangers U19s

12th Nov 2011 Hibs U19s v Hearts U19s – youth cup

18th Nov 2011 Hearts triple investment for the future / Loan deal

19th Nov 2011 Hearts U19s v Kilmarnock U19s

27th Nov 2011 Celtic U19s v Hearts U19s

3rd Dec 2011 Dundee United U19s v Hearts U19s

7th Dec 2011 Darren Murray Interview

31st Dec 2011 Spartans v Hearts U19s

3rd Jan 2012 HYDC speaks to “The Scotsman”

7th Jan 2012 Fraser Mullen First Team Debut

13th Jan 2012 John Murray Interview

18th Feb 2012 Aberdeen U19s v Hearts U19s

25th Feb 2012 Hearts U19s v Inverness C.T.

3rd Mar 2012 St Mirren U19s v Hearts U19s

9th Mar 2012 Scotland U15 Call Ups

10th Mar 2012 St Johnstone U19s v Hearts U19s

17th Mar 2012 Dunfermline Athletic U19s v Hearts U19s

20th Mar 2012 Hearts U19s v Motherwell U19s

31st Mar 2012 Hibernian U19s v Hearts U19s

7th Apr 2012 HYDC Young Player of the Year Awards 2011/12

27th Apr 2012 Darren Murray Interview

30th Apr 2012 Hibernian U17s v Hearts U17s East of Scotland Shield

12th May 2012 Musselburgh Athletic v Hearts U19s

18th May 2012 SFA Modern Apprenticeships

1st Jun 2012 Parting of the ways

16-07-11 Whitehill Welfare 0-0 Hearts U19s

Hearts U19 side played out a goalless draw in their first game of the season at Rosewell. It was a physically competitive game of very few chances at either end. Hearts ultimately enjoyed the best of the possession but were forced to work hard against a well organised side.

Whitehill started the brighter side as one or two of the Hearts youngsters seemed to be caught out by the strength of the physical challenges and the pace of their strikers. Whitehill actually had the ball in the net in four minutes but it was rightly chalked off for offside. Hearts immediately hit back and had a good claim for a penalty turned down when Smith was upended as he ran in on goal.

Whitehill then had their best effort on goal after six minutes but a fierce shot was deflected over the bar for a corner.

Hearts again hit back with a 25 yard effort from Fraser Mullen that was deflected just past the post. Callum Paterson then had Hearts best effort of the game after 27 minutes with a good shot from 20 yards that forced the Whitehill keeper to make a diving save to his left. Clear cut chances remained elusive though the Whitehill defence had increasing problems in dealing with Callum Paterson\’s pace and touch

Half time was reached with Hearts having recovered well from a sluggish start to have a slight edge in play.

The second half started with Paterson up front and Smith out wide, but if anything the game got a little scrappier with the referee having to speak repeatedly to several Whitehill players for dissent and Chris Kane for a couple of typically robust challenges.

Both sides made a couple of substitutions but chances remained few and far between. Paterson and Walker both had shots off target and Paterson had one decent chance with a header from a Mullen corner as time ran out.

Overall, it was a good run out against an experienced side that beat Clyde 3-0 last week. Keeper, Jack Hamilton, didn\’t actually have to make a save in the whole game. Best for Hearts were Paterson, Kane and my man of the match Brad McKay who strolled through the game but was up for the challenges when required.

Due to a shortage of central defenders, Darren Murray fielded one overage player in Colin Hamilton.

Hearts Line Up

Jack Hamilton

Fraser Mullen, Brad McKay, Colin Hamilton, Kevin McHattie

Ryan Stewart (Michael Thomson), Chris Tobin, Chris Kane, George Scott (Jamie Walker), Calum Paterson

Dave Smith

Unused Subs: Jordan Miller, Deividas Kapustas, Marcus McMillan, Dale Carrick

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19 to 23-07-11 McDaids Football Special Foyle Cup – 2011

Hearts entered three Academy teams into the 2011 Foyle Cup. The event was held in Derry, Northern Ireland between 19th and 23rd July. As in previous years, HYDC provided John Murray with the financial support to allow Hearts to participate in the tournament. These funds cover the travel, food and accommodation cost of the players and their coaches.

The three teams were entered at Under 11, Under 12 and Under 14 age groups. The U11s played very well throughout the tournament, scoring 32 goals in the process, but were edged out 2-1 in the final by Derry & District. It was a fine performance in what was their first taste of competitive football.

The U12s and U14s both lost out at the semi-final stage, 2-0 to Cavan/Monaghan and 1-0 to Aberdeen respectively. Again, both sides played well and quickly recovered from their disappointments to win the 3rd place play-offs, both by comfortable 3-0 margins.

A second place and two third places was a fair reward for the team efforts and will provide the youngsters with good experience in their footballing development.

Full details of the tournament can be found at the Foyle Cup website

The draw for the tournament was made on 15th June by Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeper and survivor of the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.

The draws for each of the age groups featuring Hearts were as follows:

Under 11 draw
Section A -Hearts, Ballymoney, Shankill Juniors, Inishowen Colts
Section B -Institute, Coleraine, Shankill Colts, Stranocum
Section C -Derry & District, Coleraine Colts, St Oliver Plunkett, Inishowen YL
Section D -Maiden City, Bertie PEacock, St Olliver Plunkett Colts, Letterkenny Colts

Under 12 Draw
A – Derry & District, Gweedore, Cavan/Monaghan, Ballinamallard
B – Hearts, Coleraine, Armagh, Shankill
C – Institute, Ballymoney, Stranocum, Linfield
D – Limavady, Bertie Peacock, Arklow, Newhill

Under 14 Draw
A – Celtic, FS Academy, Coleraine, Mid Ulster
B – Aberdeen, Inishowen, Newhill, Enniskillen
C – Hearts, Downpatrick, NW & Coleraine, Crumlin
D – Carniny, Armagh, Donegal, Linfield

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19-07-11 Vale of Leithen 2-1 Hearts XI

Hearts fielded a mix of U19s, trialists and overage fringe players in this friendly at Innerleithen. The Hearts side ended up on the losing side of a 1-2 scoreline after taking the lead in the first half through Nigerian Trialist, Ortega Deniran.

From a Hearts point of view this was a disappointing performance as they failed to create enough chances against part-time opponents. The trialist took his goal well after he pounced on a defensive error.  Hearts did hit the woodwork three times, Dave Smith from 25 yards at the end of the first half, Kevin McHattie with a rasping shot against the bar just after Vale of Leithen went 2-1 up and Denis Prychynenko hitting the post with a 90th minute free kick from 25 yards.

I thought Hearts got exactly what they deserved from the game as Vale of Leithen were the better side for much of the game. All credit to East of Scotland League side who lasted the pace well and scored two excellent 2nd half goals, particularly the first which came from a diving header in the opening minute of the second half.

Jim Jefferies was in attendance and probably left none too impressed by the performance of the Hearts side, with the exception of Jason Holt and Dave Smith who was Hearts best player on the night.

Hearts line-up

J Hamilton

Mullen, Trialist, McKay (C Hamilton), McHattie

Paterson, Kane (Tobin), Prychynenko, Holt, Smith

Trialist.

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22-07-11 Penicuik Athletic  1-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts U19s came from behind to beat a plucky Penicuik Athletic side, with a stunning strike from 30 yards by Dave Smith with just two minutes left, proving to be the winner. Hearts fielded their full U19 side plus one overage player in Nigerian trialist Ortega Deniran. Captain, Chris Kane, dropped back to centre back alongside Brad McKay who had played for Penicuik on loan throughout last season. Callum Paterson scored Hearts opener.

Hearts started brightly showing lots of pace down the flanks.  It was the two wide men who came closest early on with a Dave Smith shot going just wide and Callum Paterson somehow managing to lift the ball over the keeper and the bar from four yards.

Penicuik got more into the game as the half progressed and Hearts tempo dropped.  Firstly Jack Hamilton made a good stop from a shot on the turn from a Penicuik striker, then on the half hour mark Penicuik should have gone ahead as an angled shot-come-cross found the Penicuik centre forward coming in at the back post but he unbelievably managed to knock the ball over the bar from a yard out.

The remainder of the first half was even with both sides probing but failing to create any clear-cut chances.

Hearts replaced George Scott with Dale Carrick at half time.

Just a minute into the half, Hearts were hit by a sucker punch as Penicuik went ahead. A ball over the top left the static Hearts defence appealing in vain for offside as Grant Killen coolly slotted home a low shot into the corner of Hamilton’s net from the edge of the box.

Penicuik continued to look threatening on the break and Darren Murray reacted by replacing the ineffective Ortega Deniran with Ryan Stewart.  The changes seem to spur Hearts into greater efforts, as Dave Smith and Kevin McHattie had shots both well saved and just missing the target

Hearts now had a grip on the midfield with Jason Holt and Chris Tobin keeping the ball moving as Hearts pressed for an equaliser.  This finally came in 71 minutes when Fraser Mullen to laid a quickly taken corner into the path of Callum Paterson who drilled a low shot ball into the net from 15 yards.

Hearts continued to press forward and Brad McKay had a header cleared off the line and Jason Holt just missed the target after a good passing move.

With three minutes left Penicuik almost scored against the run of play with a fine shot from 20 yards that Jack Hamilton tipped onto his bar and recovered the rebound himself. That piece of good fortune was followed with great joy from the Hearts side, just a minute later, as Dave Smith latched onto a loose ball 30 yards out an fired in an unsaveable shot that went in off the post, which proved to be the winner.

This was a much better performance from the Hearts youngsters whose pace and fitness finally proved too much for the junior side.  The same Penicuik side beat Rangers U19 side 2-1 last week, so it may be a good omen for the season ahead.

Best for Hearts were Brad McKay, Jason Holt and my man of the match Dave Smith whose pace caused the home defence problems all night.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Kane(capt) McKay McHattie

Paterson Holt Tobin Scott(Carrick) Smith

Deniran(Stewart)

Unused Subs: Carsewell, O’Hara, Thomson,  McMillan

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25-07-11 Dunbar United  0-6 Hearts XI

A strong Hearts XI featuring trialists, including Ortega Deniran on his second outing, comfortably beat the junior side in what was a testimonial match for the “Seasiders” Geoff Jones.

Hearts dominated proceedings from the first whistle, but surprisingly took until the 24th minute to open the scoring through Denis Prychynenko with a long range effort.

Five minutes later Scott Robinson headed home a Fraser Mullen cross from close range to double the advantage.

On 38 minutes Gordon Smith scored with a 12 yard shot, and two minutes later a United defender diverted a Mullen cross into his own net for an OG.

Hearts made a handful of second half changes that did not alter the flow of the play and scored a further two goals. First David Smith scored with an angled shot on 59 minutes, and a back post header from Kevin McHattie on 87 minutes following a Mullen cross completed the scoring.

Hearts Line-up;

1 Hamilton (J) (13 Carswell 78)

2 Mullen

3 Trialist

4 Prychynenko

5 McKay

6 Hamilton (C)

7 Holt (16 Tobin 62)

8 Robinson (15 Smith (D) 45)

9 Deniran

10 Smith (G) (12 Kane 62)

11 Driver (14 McHattie 58)

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29-07-11 Hearts U19s 3-2 Newcastle United Academy

Hearts U19s beat Newcastle United 3-2 at Riccarton earlier today. Hearts were cruising at 3-0 with 17 minutes to go but a combination of bad decision making and a lack of concentration allowed Newcastle back into a game in which Hearts were technically well ahead. Jason Holt made a surprise appearance for Hearts after getting back from Hungary at 4 am.

After an uncharacteristically slack opening from Hearts, in which they conceded a couple of free kicks on the edge of the box, Callum Paterson put Hearts ahead after 20 minutes when he outpaced the United defence a slotting the ball past the keeper from the edge of the box. Dale Carrick scored the second after 39 minutes with a quick turn and shot after Dave Smith had won a challenge just outside the box.

Billy King replaced Dale Carrick at half time. Newcastle\’s keeper kept them in the game with good saves from Callum Paterson (twice) and Dave Smith before Fraser Mullen scored Hearts third after 69 minutes with a free kick from 25 yards out.

With 17 minutes left Billy King gave away a needless free kick 10 yards inside the United half. The ball was played into the left channel and indecision by the centre backs and the keeper allowed the Newcastle striker the time to lob the ball over Jack Hamilton into the net. Newcastle\’s 2nd came after 82 minutes after a series of passes down the right set up their striker to score from just 8 yards, but with no apparent challenge from any of the Hearts defenders.

Hearts comfortably saw out time and looked more likely to score on the break than to concede an equaliser.

Newcastle were a big and physically strong side, but were no match for Hearts technical ability and pace. Man of the match Jason Holt ran the show for long periods as the United players appeared to take it in turns to try and foul the Hearts play-maker. Fraser Mullen also had a good game at right back.

Hearts lineup

Hamilton

Mullen Kane McKay McHattie

Stewart Smith Tobin Holt Paterson

Carrick (B King)

Unused subs: Carswell, McMillan, Thomson, A King, Scott, O\’Hara, Trialist

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30-07-11 Tynecastle FC 2-5 Hearts XI

Hearts fielded an XI that was a mix of older fringe players and younger U19 players in this friendly, having played another U19 game yesterday.  They had to fight back from 2 goals in arrears before emphasising their superiority with five unanswered goals of their own.

Hearts started very poorly and almost conceded a goal in the third minute when keeper Blair Carswell was forced into a good save following a good run from a Tynecastle midfielder.  Hearts failed to heed the warning and conceded two similar goals in 15 and 23 minutes with balls over the top catching the centre backs on the retreat and exposing the keeper. The first one looked as if it may have been marginally offside, but both were finished well by the Tynecastle strikers.

Darren Murray reacted almost immediately by taking off Thomson and the trialist striker, replacing them with Dave Smith and Dale Carrick. That move quickly paid dividends as Dale Carrick pulled one back with a shot from 15 yards after 30 minutes. Hearts then got themselves back on level terms just before the interval with a neat finish by George Scott from eight yards.

Three minutes after break Hearts went ahead with a bit of good fortune when Fraser Mullen whipped in a corner from the left and the ball rebounded off Nigerian trialist Ortega Deniran and into the net.

Tynecastle looked to have tired quite badly early in the 2nd half as Hearts started to dominate possession. The warm sunshine may also have had some effect on the players.

Hearts scored a fourth midway through the 2nd half, when Denis Prychynenko found himself in space 25 yards out and calmly stroked the ball into the top corner. It was a much better effort than a couple of his free kicks which went skywards.

Hearts made it five after 72 minutes with an exact replica of the 3rd goal with Mullen\’s corner hit with pace and again rebounding off Deniran into the net.

In the end Hearts fully deserved their win but need some of their younger players to toughen up and play with a bit more thought. Best for Hearts was Fraser Mullen by some distance, which reflected well on his fitness levels as he had played the full 90 minutes yesterday. Best for Tynecastle was ex Hearts youth player, Eddie Mearns, who looked his old industrious self.

Hearts Line-up

Carswell

Mullen McKay C Hamilton O\’Hara

Thomson (Smith) Kane (A King) Prychynenko Scott (B King)

Trialist )

Unused subs: J Hamilton, Tobin

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06-08-11 Musselburgh Athletic 3-4 Hearts U19s

Hearts youngsters completed a fine comeback win this afternoon as they twice came back from a deficit to beat the Scottish Junior Cup finalists 4-3 in an entertaining game at Olivebank.  Hearts scorers were Holt, Mullen(2, 1pen) and B King.

Darren Murray had to shuffle his pack after Kevin McHattie was called up to join the first team as defensive cover.  Fraser Mullen moved to left back and Ryan Stewart filled in a right back.  Adam King came into midfield to join his brother Billy.  Oddly enough, Musselburgh also fielded two “Kings” in their side.

Musselburgh started the better and could have gone ajead in 12 minutes when Jack Hamilton dallied on the ball too long and his attempted clearance was blocked and rebounded onto the bar. However, Musselburgh did go 1-0 up after 17 mins with a Matty King header from a corner. The ball hit the post and just crossed the line before Hamilton could grab it. The assistant referee flagged to give the goal and there wasn’t much dispute from the Hearts defenders.

Hearts quickly got back into the game when Jason Holt scored Hearts equaliser after 21 minutes with a quick spin an low shot from 20 yards. Just after the half hour, Musselburgh regained the lead through Steve Gatt with a tap-in when he was played in after a good run down the left channel. Half time 2-1 to the home side which was a fair reflection on how the first 45 minutes had played out.

Darren Murray obviously ahd some harsh words for his team during the interval as Hearts upped the tempo in the 2nd half and passed the ball much better. Hearts second equaliser came after 59 minutes with a fine free kick by Fraser Mullen from 28 yards that left the keeper with no chance. Hearts should have gone ahead 5 minutes later when first Billy King had a shot saved, Jason Holt picked up the rebound and had his shot blocked on the line and when the ball was played back into the area Callum Paterson eventually headed over from close in. The 3rd goal was only delayed a further 4 minutes as Jason Holt was clearly tripped in the box and the referee awarded the penalty.  Fraser Mullen sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot to put Hearts ahead.

Billy King extended Hearts lead in the 84th minute with a solo effort, breaking clear from the half way line and taking the ball round the keeper and a retreating defender to score from a tight angle. Musselburgh, to their credit, continued to press and were rewarded with a 3rd goal and Matty King’s second with a neatly flicked header from 6 yards following a free kick. Musselburgh could have forced an equaliser in the last minute but for a brave stop by Hamilton and a couple of good blocks from Brad McKay.

A good win against the Junior Cup finalists and should set-up the U19s nicely for next weekend\’s opening league fixture against Motherwell. MOTM was again Fraser Mullen who apart from his goals played very well out of position at left back.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Stewart McKay Kane Mullen

Smith A King Tobin Holt B King

Paterson

Subs (all unused) Carswell, McMillan, Thomson, Scott, O’Hara, Carrick, Trialist.

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13-08-11 Motherwell U19s 1-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts opened the league season with a 2-1 win away to Motherwell at Creamery Park Bathgate this morning. Both goals came from Billy King in the first half with a Kieran McGachie header sandwiched in between. Hearts dominated possession for long periods of the second half and Motherwell were thankful to their keeper who made some good saves.

Kevin McHattie was again away with the first team so Darren Murray was forced into shuffling the pack with Dale O\’Hara coming in at left back and the surprise selection of Callum Paterson at Centre back alongside Brad McKay. That freed up Chris Kane to anchor the midfield. It was probably a reflection of what was expected from the home side who are a physically strong side.

Hearts started brightly and thought they had gone ahead after 6 minutes after a Fraser Mullen free kick on the left of the box was headed into the net, only for the referee to say that the full back had taken the free kick too quickly. The threatened goal was only delayed by five minutes when Dave Smith, on the left, got to the bye line and cut back to Billy King who made a yard of space for himself to shoot low past the keeper from 10 yards.

Motherwell conceded several free kicks around the area but both Mullen and Dale O\’Hara were off target as they sought to stretch Hearts lead.

Slowly, Motherwell got a foothold back in the game and a cross from Josh Watt the right was glanced just past the post on 25 minutes. Hearts should have heeded the warning as Josh watt and Nick Devlin combined for the latter to send in another cross from the right on 33 minutes which was met by McGachie at the near post and headed into the net.

Hearts were denied a penalty as Holt was dragged down just inside the box, but the referee adjudged the offence to have taken place just outside the area. Callum Paterson then had a fine header from a Mullen corner go just wide of the upright as Hearts sought to regain their advantage. Just on half time ,Hearts pressure was rewarded when Jason Holt won a free kick 28 yards out. Billy King stuck the ball low to the keeper\’s right but, although he got a hand to it he couldn\’t keep the ball out the net.

The second half started with Hearts looking to move the ball quicker and it was to prove the right tactic as the Motherwell players were left chasing shadows for long spells. Motherwell did have one effort at goal that Jack Hamilton saved to his right and McGachie should have done better with the rebound than push it wide of the target. Other than that it was one way traffic toward the Motherwell goal with Jason Holt a constant threat with his twists and turns away from defenders. Jason was twice denied a goal himself once by the keeper smothering the ball at his feet and the second by a desperate defensive block. The keeper also made a great flying save to prevent Billy King getting his hat-trick, then had a couple more excellent saves, first from a Mullen free kick, then the save of the game as he dived to his right and fingertipped a rasping effort from substitute Dale Carrick just over the bar.

Hearts would be happy with the result, but slightly disappointed not to get more goals. Best for Hearts were Brad McKay, Billy King and my MOTM Jason Holt who was central to most of Hearts creative work.

Hearts Line-up

Hamilton

Mullen Paterson McKay O\’Hara

Stewart (Carrick) Tobin Kane Holt B.King

Smith

Unused subs: Carswell, Thomson, Scott, Nicholson, A King

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18-08-11 Scotland U16s – Jordan McGhee

Scotland began their preparations for the Sky Sports Victory Shield, on Wednesday in the Channel Islands, with an 8-1 demolition of a Guernsey youth select. Hearts U17 centre-back, Jordan McGhee, scored the opening goal with a header from a corner in the first minute.  Jordan was substituted at half time with Scotland 4-0 up as coach Ross Mathie sought to give everyone in the squad a game.

Scotland played their second match in two days against a Jersey select and won 6-2.  Jordan started on the bench on this occasion, but  with came on as a substitute at half time with Scotland 2-1 down.

Jordan will be pleased that  while he was on the pitch over the two games Scotland scored nine goals and conceded none.

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18-08-11 Joe Jordan – HYDC 20th Anniversary Presentation

The visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Tynecastle on Europa League business on 18th August 2011 was an opportunity  to mark the 20th Anniversary  of HYDC being established  at the request of former manager, Joe Jordan.

Joe was presented with a decanter and glasses prior to the match by HYDC chairman Calum Robertson (right) and treasurer Alex Jones(left).

The original committee members were  Vic Ross, Eddie Cobb, Roy West, Alan West, Alex Knight, Robin Beith,  Ramas Dehar and Alex Jones. Hearts appointed Pilmar Smith and John Frame as advisors to the group. George Nicolson joined shortly thereafter.

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20-08-11 Hearts U19s 4-2 Dundee United U19s

Hearts came back from a two goal deficit at half time with four unanswered goals in the second half to win 4-2 against a stuffy United side.  Hearts completely dominated possession for 30 minutes but hardly created a chance, then were hit by a double sucker punch in as United converted two of the three chances they created in the first half. In the second half Hearts dominated possession even more when they upped the tempo of their play and ultimately ran out worthy winners.

Darren Murray made one change from last week’s victory over Motherwell with Kevin McHattie replacing Dale O’Hara at left back.

Hearts started the game brightly, retaining possession well, but not really threatening the United goal. Hearts were limited to long range strikes from Dave Smith and Jason Holt failing to test the keeper, before Billy King cut in from the left and fired in a shot that the United keeper tipped over the bar in 12 minutes.  Fraser Mullen’s cross from the resultant corner was headed onto his own bar by a United defender as Hearts threatened to go ahead.  On 25 minutes Billy King had another shot deflected away for a corner, then Kevin McHattie did beat the keeper but his shot was cleared off the line.  It seemed just a matter of time before Hearts got the goal that  their outfield play  deserved.

The match was turned on its head in 28 minutes when Dave Smith lost possession well inside the Dundee United half. The ball was played down the United left but the covering defender Callum Paterson got himself on the wrong side of the forward who fed the ball inside to United’s 15 year old midfielder, Ryan Gauld, who sent in an unstoppable shot into the top left corner of Jack Hamilton’s goal. It was United’s first attack of the match but it was a strike worthy of winning any game

United almost doubled their lead two minutes later when their striker found space 15 yards out and but his shot across the keeper went narrowly wide of the target. Hearts seemed to have lost their way and it was no surprise when Dundee United did get a second goal after 39 minutes.  A ball played through the middle of the defence had Hearts appealing in vain for an offside decision and Ryan Gauld ran onto the ball to slot it past Hamilton for his second goal of the game.

Darren Murray reacted immediately to reinforce his attacking options with Dale Carrick replacing Ryan Stewart.  It remained 0-2 until the half time whistle when Hearts players were left shaking their heads as to how they could be two goals behind in a game where they had enjoyed around 70% of possession.

The Hearts coach made a positional change at the start of the second half which was to prove a master stroke.  Captain Chris Kane moved back to partner Brad McKay in central defence, allowing Callum Paterson to resume his more normal attacking role from right midfield.

Dundee United almost got a third in the first minute of the second half when a ball over the top found their striker running in on goal but Kevin McHattie showed good pace to get back to make a good block.

Hearts got themselves back into the game after 48 minutes when, after a period of intense pressure on the United goal, Fraser Mullen played a neat ball into Dale Carrick’s path and the youngster slid the ball past the advancing keeper from 10 yards.

Hearts’ tails were now up and they continued to press for an equaliser. It duly arrived in 55 minutes when Dave Smith won a challenge 25 yards out and fed Callum Paterson who finished well with a left foot shot across the keeper and into the far corner. Hearts continued to press with Jason Holt, Kevin McHattie, Dale Carrick and Billy King all going close as Dundee United were forced into some desperate defending.

Dundee United had a player stretchered off on 67 after a lengthy stoppage minutes. He appeared to have  fallen heavily on his back following an innoculous collision with Billy King.   It looked a serious injury and an ambulance was called to take him off to hospital after the final whistle.  The injury turned out not to be serious which is good news for the lad.

Hearts finally got their noses in front in 69 minutes when a Fraser Mullen corner was headed down by Chris Kane to Callum Paterson who finished with a a fine hooked shot from 12 yards.

Dundee United were reduced to 10 men when their number 11 was shown a straight red card for a lunge towards Kevin McHattie. It appeared to be a somewhat harsh decision as both players went in hard and there was minimal contact and no complaint from McHattie.

Hearts thus continued their dominance of possession although United did have one late chance on 83 minutes with a free kick that clipped the top of the bar.  Hearts were content to see out time but they added a fourth goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Dave Smith got to the bye line and cut back to Billy King to shoot home from 12 yards.

Hearts were happy with the result, but will look to learn from the missed opportunities and some questionable defending in the first half. Best for Hearts were Brad McKay, Chris Tobin, Jason Holt and my  MOTM  Billy King who carried a threat down the left throughout the match.

Hearts Line-up

Hamilton

Mullen Paterson McKay McHattie

Stewart (Carrick) Tobin Kane Holt B.King

Smith

Unused subs: Carswell, Thomson, Scott, Nicholson, A King

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27-08-11 Rangers U19s 0-2 Hearts U19s

Another good win for the youngsters at Murray Park this morning as they beat Rangers 2-0 with a goal in each half from Kevin McHattie and Callum Paterson. This time it wasn\’t down to their usual dominance of possession as Rangers had as much of the ball, but Hearts worked really hard when they didn\’t have the ball and limited Rangers to just a couple of chances. Hearts did have that little bit more quality and created probably half a dozen good chances over the piece and thoroughly deserved the win.

Darren Murray stuck with the formation that saw Hearts score four second half goals against Dundee United last week, with Chris Kane in the centre of defence and Callum Paterson starting wide right.

After an initial thrust from Rangers, Hearts quickly settled into their passing game with Chris Tobin, in particular pulling the strings. After 4 minutes he set up a nice move down the left, involving Holt and King, but the winger’s cross was cut out by the Rangers keeper Alan Smith.  After 12 minutes Tobin himself chested down a clearance in the centre circle and moved forward into space.  He let go a shot from 20 yards but it went narrowly wide of the keeper’s right hand post.

The opening goal came just a minute later. Hearts earned themselves a free kick over 30 yards out. Fraser Mullen’s effort was judged to have hit the raised arm of a defender in the wall so the referee awarded another free kick 10 yards closer to goal.  This time Kevin McHattie ran over the ball and Fraser Mullen’s shot deflected off the wall and fell perfectly into the path of McHattie who slotted the ball past the keeper from 12 yards.

Hearts fully merited their lead at that stage, but gradually Rangers got a foothold into the game, mainly through their Polish midfielder, Kamil Wiktorski, who even outshone Jason Holt for a spell.   Rangers their first chance of the game after 38 minutes with a cross from Adam Hunter on the right that was headed wide of Jack Hamilton’s right hand post by Jack Werndly. Just before the break, Hamilton was forced into making his first save of the game from a 25 free kick by Adam Hunter that was well struck but was straight at the keeper.

Rangers made their first substitution at half time and a second one seven minutes in as they sought to freshen up their ineffective strike force.  Darren Murray also made a change after 53 minutes with Ryan Stewart replacing Dale Carrick who had worked tirelessly chasing many a lost cause.

Dave Smith tested Rangers keeper with a good shot from 30 yards which Alan Smith could only gather at the second attempt. Rangers tried to press forward but their efforts more often than not were wasted through overhit crosses or from free kicks that hit Hearts defensive wall.  Rangers did have a fair bit of the ball, but were denied openings by a hard working defensive unit.

As time progressed, it looked increasingly likely that Hearts would add a second on the break, rather than concede an equaliser. On one of those breaks, Callum Paterson brought a good stop from Alan Smith and the rebound fell perfectly for Billy King 10 yards out but he lashed the ball wide when it seemed a simple task to side-foot the ball into the net.  On 63 minutes Rangers almost conceded an own goal when a low cross from Fraser Mullen was defected towards goal by Kyle McAusland, but the keeper did well to dive backwards to stop the ball crossing the line

Rangers had their best effort of the game after 78 minutes when a cross by Wiiktorski from the right was headed goalwards by Kyle McAusland but Jack Hamilton made a fine diving save on the line.  Hearts hit back five minutes later when a well struck shot from 20 yards from Callum Paterson brought the save of the match from the Rangers keeper as he finger-tipped the ball just round the post.

Hearts finally doubled their lead after 89 minutes, when Fraser Mullen and Ryan Stewart combined on the right and fed the ball inside to Chris Tobin who set up Callum Paterson, again 20 yards out, but this time he drove that ball low past the keeper’s outstretched right hand.

It’s always a good effort to come to Glasgow and get a result at any level and this one was no different. Hearts best performers, for once, were in defence with Kevin McHattie and Brad McKay having fine games.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen, Kane, McKay, McHattie

Paterson, Smith, Tobin, Holt, B King

Carrick (Stewart)

Unused subs – Carswell, O\’Hara, Thomson, Scott, A King

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31-08-11 New Signing – Callum Tapping

Hearts have announced the deadline day signing of 18 year old Callum Tapping from Tottenham Hotspur for a nominal fee. Callum plays in an attacking midfield role and is a Scotland U 19 internationalist.  Callum has signed a two year deal with an option for a further year.

Callum was born in England, but spent his formative years in Scotland and attended Larbert High Scool.  He featured in Hamilton Academical and Celtic Academy  teams before moving south to join Spurs’ Academy side.  Callum played 27 times in Spurs FA Academy Premier League last season.

Darren Murray said “ Callum is a central midfielder with good abiliy.  He can see a pass, get forward, and score goals. He is diligent, conscientious as well and is someone we believe we can develop for the future with us.”

Callum featured with Hearts as a trialist in the Keyline Cup tournament in Oban at the beginning of July, scoring a couple of goals in the process. Let’s hope that is a good indication of what Callum will offer the team in the future.

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03-09-11 Hearts U19s 2-1 Aberdeen U19s

Hearts maintained their 100% start to the season with a come from behind win at Riccarton this afternoon. Hearts started very well but conceded a goal, on the break, from an Aberdeen side that had lots of pace down the flanks.  Callum Paterson equalised just before half time after good work by Jason Holt down the right, then added a second midway  through second half with a header from a Fraser Mullen free kick.

Hearts started the game with the same team that finished the previous week’s victory against Rangers with Ryan Stewart replacing Dale Carrick in the starting line up.  Aberdeen fielded a young side that only contained three 2nd year U19s.

Hearts youngsters quickly got into their stride and created a good opening for Billy King after 4 minutes, but the young striker was crowded out before he could get a shot away.  Two minutes later the same player got on the end of a cross from Fraser Mullen, but his shot was well saved by Lukasik in the Aberdeen goal.

The keeper came to Aberdeen’s rescue again in 14 minutes when Hearts used a training ground move from a throw in on the left to set up a shot from 25 yards by Fraser Mullen. The full back’s effect looked net bound but was parried away for a corner.

It was Aberdeen however who scored the opening goal on 19 minutes against the run of play.  A long cross-field ball from the left back position found its way through to Ryan Fraser coming in at pace from the right wing and he slid the ball past Jack Hamilton and in off the post to give the visitors the lead.

Aberdeen’s confidence was lifted somewhat by the goal, but Hearts continued to press forward.  They got their  reward after 33 minutes when Jason Holt picked up the ball on the right, evaded a strong challenge and played a one-two with Ryan Stewart. The midfield dynamo got to the bye line and cut the ball back to the edge of the box where Callum Paterson struck the ball first time with a crisp low shot to the keeper’s left and into the corner of the net.

Callum Paterson missed a great chance just before the interval when he headed a fine Fraser Mullen cross over the bar.

The second half started more evenly in terms of territory with Hearts continuing to have the bulk of possession, but with Aberdeen looking increasingly threatening on the break, particularly with the pace they had down both flanks.  That said, there were no clear chances created at either end, with the Aberdeen defence well marshalled by Jack Grimmer and Hearts’ Brad McKay controlling things for the home side.

Hearts did get the break they were looking for after 66 minutes.  Afree kick 25 yards out on the left was swung into the area by Fraser Mullen and Callum Paterson stooped to head the ball goal-wards and with the aid of a slight deflection the ball went into the net for Callum’s and Hearts second goal.

Aberdeen hit back and had a strong claim for a penalty after 72 minutes when Brad McKay appeared to pull back Dean Carse as he dribbled along the bye line.  The referee said play on and the Aberdeen striker was booked for dissent.

Hearts created some half chances themselves for Billy King and Dale Carrick but the young forwards appeared not fully committed in their efforts on goal.

Another chance went begging for Aberdeen on 80 minutes but a mishit header was cleared by Brad McKay by the post.

Hearts were content to retain possession and play out time, but it always looked as if Aberdeen would get one more chance.  That came in stoppage time when left back Jamie Masson got his head to a corner from the left but his effort went just over the top.

That was the last chance of the game and the whistle blew with Hearts a little relieved to see out the win, but overall they deserved their win on the number of chances created and the edge of possession.

Best for Hearts were Fraser Mullen in the first half and Brad Mckay who had an outstanding second half.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen, Kane, McKay, McHattie

Stewart  (Carrick) Smith, Tobin, Holt, Paterson

B King (Scott)

Unused subs – Carswell, O\’Hara, Thomson, A King

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16-09-11 Hearts U19s 0-2 Celtic U19s

It was unlucky 13 for Hearts as their run of 12 successive league wins came to a halt against Celtic at Riccarton this afternoon.  In a tough fought encounter Celtic scored two second half goals to leapfrog Hearts at the top of the table. Hearts will be disappointed with the result, but there was enough in the performance to suggest that they will be competing for the title come April

Darren Murray made a couple of changes from his usual line up with Callum Tapping making his debut as a holding midfielder and Jamie Walker making a welcome return to the side after have last season almost written off because of a serious knee injury.

Celtic started the game on the front foot, taking the game to Hearts, mainly through the promptings of Dylan McGeouch who was also making his first appearance of the season and for Celtic,  after breaking a bone in his foot playing for Glasgow rivals Rangers, against Hearts in April.  The first chance fell to McGeouch himself in six minutes when he struck a fine shot from 20 yards off the face of Jack Hamilton’s crossbar.  A minute later, another shot from 25 yards went just wide of Hearts goal.

Hearts first effort on goal came after 11 minutes when Callum Tapping dragged a left foot shot from 20 yards wide of the right hand post. Slowly but surely, Hearts gained a foothold in the game as their slick passing started to stretch Celtic out wide, but chances were few and far between at either end.

Jamie Walker almost created an opening after 40 minutes after a run and dribble down the right.  His cutback in front of goal was wildly sliced behind by  a Celtic defender for a corner.  Two minutes later Dave Smith made good progress down the left and set up Callum Paterson for a shot from the edge of the box, but Hearts top scorer stuck the ball just wide of Robbie Thomson’s right hand post.

Just before the break  Celtic captain, Jackson Irvine stuck a fierce shot from 25 yards that Jack Hamilton was unable to hold and the young keeper was grateful that Brad McKay was on hand to clear the rebound.

The half time whistle blew with the game perfectly poised at 0-0.

The first minute of the second half saw Hearts go close as a half cleared corner was returned into the danger area by Fraser Mullen. Brad McKay got above the defender, but was adjudged to have fouled his marker.  In any event  his header was well saved by  the Celtic keeper diving to his right.  Jamie Walker was next to go close after a great individual run. He picked the ball up midway inside his own half and started running directly towards goal, ghosted past a couple of defenders, but his shot from 25 yards went just over the top.

There were few clear cut chances at either end as both sides were restricted to long range efforts and Hearts, in particular, were guilty of overplaying the ball at times.  After 69 minutes, Jackson Irivne had the best of the long range efforts from 25 yards that went just over the top.

It was increasingly looking as is the first goal would be vital, and so it proved after 73 minutes.  A Celtic corner from the left was only cleared 30 yards out and the ball was returned into the danger area.  John Herron reacted quickest and hooked a shot from 10 yards into the corner of the net for the opening goal.

Hearts reacted positively and started pushing Celtic back, but the hoops defence stood firm and dealt effectively with a couple of dangerous crosses from Fraser Mullen on the Hearts right.  However, as Hearts committed men forward, they left themselves susceptible to the quick break.  Rhys Williamson-Murrell had replaced McGeouch at half time and his pace was was proving a handful down the Celtic left.  After 86 minutes the former Crystal Palace winger outpaced the retreating Hearts defence and fired in an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box ,  in text book fashion, across the keeper and just inside the far post for Celtic’s 2nd.

It was probably a bit harsh on Hearts to be two down as the had the better of the possession, but they will reflect on the fact that they failed to create many chances over the whole 90 minutes.

Best for Hearts were Jason Holt, Jamie Walker and my MOTM Chris Kane.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen, Kane, McKay, McHattie

Paterson  Tapping, Tobin, Holt, Smith

Walker (Carrick)

Unused subs – Carswell, O\’Hara, Thomson, Scott, B King

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30-09-11 HYDC Autumn Newsletter -2011

Autumn 2011  www.hydc.co.uk

Dear HYDC Supporter

Welcome to our first newsletter of season 2011/12. This has been a very busy and exciting start to the new season for HYDC. We have now finalised our events calendar for the 2011/12 season and full details can be found in this newsletter.

Some of the younger academy teams went to the FoyleCup in Northern Ireland over the summer and I know that academy director John Murray was very pleased with how the teams performed.

A number of academy produced players have now been promoted to the first team squad andhave been performing well when called upon.

The recent visit of Tottenham Hotspur to Tynecastle meant the return of former Hearts manager Joe Jordan and HYDC were delighted to make a presentation to Joe as recognition for his foresight in instigating the start of HYDC as a way to develop youth players through to first team squad players.

As a committee we are always interested in ideas, feedback and comments from supporters – if you have anything to share, please email calumrobertson@hydc.co.uk

I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter and thank you for your continued support.

Calum Robertson

HYDC Chairman

JOE JORDAN AND HYDC
The recent Europa League fixture against Tottenham Hotspur meant the return to Tynecastle for former Hearts manager Joe Jordan. It is, as a result of a request by Joe, whilst manager of Hearts in 1991, that the HYDC wasoriginally formed. Joe had the foresight to see that the future of the club lay in financial supportbeing given directly to the youth sides.
A small group of fans were invited to begin fundraising to support the proposal and includedHearts representatives Pilmar Smith and John Frame.
Among the initial group were Robin Beith,Eddie Cobb, Ramez Daher, Alex Jones, Alex Knight, Vic Ross and the West brothers, Alan and Roy followed shortly thereafter by George Nicolson.
Current chairman Calum Robertson and treasurer Alex Jones met up with Joe and presented himwith a decanter and glasses as a token of gratitude for instigating HYDC.
Foyle Cup 2011
Heart youth sides were represented at the Foyle Cup, in Derry City and the surrounding towns from July 19th
to July 23rd 2011.
Our youngsters at U11, U12 and U14 age groups proved reasonably successful with a second place finish and two 3
rd place finishes with their age groups.
For full details on the early match results please go to www.hydc.co.uk – Foyle Cup report.
HYDC covered the costs involved in the three sides being able to take part. Without the continued support at our functions and donations we receive we would be unable to continue funding this valuable development step for the younger academy teams.
Hearts Management
HYDC were disappointed to see the departure of Jim Jefferies and Billy Brown as they were both very supportive of the committee. We wish them all the best for the future.
HYDC look forward to working with Paulo Sergio and his management team and ensuring that the Hearts players of the future continue to develop through the Hearts academy system. In particular we are delighted that Gary Locke is still on the management team as Gary was one of the first players to come through the Hearts youth academy system.
Lee Wallace
The start of the season saw Lee Wallace move to Glasgow Rangers. Lee is a former winner of the HYDC Young Player of the Year awards and has developed into the best left back in Scotland. Despite a serious injury last year Lee has  continued to improve over the last five years and HYDC wish him all the best in the future.
Academy Players in the News
Kevin McHattie Jordan McGhee
HYDC were delighted to see another player from the academy make his first team debut against Aberdeen on 13th
August 2011. Kevin McHattie came on as a replacement for Ryan Stevenson. Kevin is usually a left full back but fitted in well in the midfield and ended the match on the winning side. HYDC congratulates Kevin on his debut performance.
At the recent Hearts Shareholders meeting in September, manager Paulo Sergio indicated that Kevin McHattie was seen as having strong potential in the full back role he plays in regularly with Darren Murray’s Under 19 squad. Kevin at only
18 would seem to have a big future at Tynecastle.
Scotland began their preparations for the Sky Sports Victory Shield in the Channel Islands, with an 8-1 demolition of a Guernsey youth select. Hearts U17 centre-back, Jordan McGhee, scored the opening goal with a header from a corner in the first minute. Jordan was substituted at half time with Scotland 4-0 up.
Scotland played their second match in two days against a Jersey select and won 6-2. While he was on the pitch over the two games Scotland, scored nine goals and conceded none.
Congratulations to Jordan from HYDC.
Events Calendar 2011/12
Monday 10 October 2011 09.00 HYDC Annual Golf Day
Enjoy a round of golf at Turnhouse Golf Club with two friends/colleagues and a former or present Hearts player at a cost of £200 per team.
Sunday 30 October 2011 12.30 Sportsman’s Breakfast
Full cooked breakfast and an afternoon of entertainment from speakers, Jim Leishman, Tosh McKinlay and Bill Leckie. Hosted by Scott Wilson. Tickets only £20.
Saturday 18 Feb 2012 19.30 “It’s Not Just a Burns Supper”
Enjoy a relaxed Burns Supper the HYDC way. Including music and poetry from “The Poosie Nansie Burns Club” and guest speakers.
Ticket price to be confirmed.
Saturday 7 April 2012 19.30 Young Player of the Year Dinner
An annual opportunity to celebrate the talent that represents Hearts FC from Under 11 to Under 19 culminating in the overall Young player of the year as voted by you, the fans.
Ticket price to be confirmed.
Friday 20 April 2012 09.30 An0nual George Nicolson Memorial Golf Day
Join HYDC in a team golf event in memory of our former chairman George Nicolson.
Team price to be confirmed.
For details of all the above please email youthdevelopment @homplc.co.uk
Welcome donations
HYDC would like to gratefully thank the Hearts Shareholders Association on their recent donation of £4,500 which will be used by academy director, John Murray. This follows previous donations so willingly given and HYDC have acknowledged the support of the Shareholders Association with a personal message of thanks to chairman Bill Alves.
HYDC have also received a further donation of £750 from Jambos Kickback which is the second donation from them since the end of last season.
Without donations and support from organizations such as the Shareholders Association and Jambos Kickback it would be impossible for HYDC to continue to fund purchases and tournaments for academy teams and in the present financial climate, we appreciate these gestures even more.
Whilst we really appreciate large donations we are always looking for new members to our monthly draw. For £5 per month you could win £500, £100 or £50 in the draw which takes place at half time at the first home game of every month.
Hearts keeper Marian Kello won 1st prize when Paul Hartley drew out his number at the pre season friendly against Royal Antwerp.

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01-10-11 Kilmarnock U19s 2-4 Hearts U19s

Hearts got back to winning ways with a hard fought win played in monsoon conditions at Kilwinning. Both sides sought to play football despite the conditions, but  better finishing from the visitors proved to be key. Hearts went behind to an early own goal by  Callum Paterson, however goals by Brad McKay, Dave Smith and Callum Tapping gave Hearts a comfortable 3-1 half time lead.  Killie did get a goal back early in the second half but Jamie Walker settled things with 15 minutes left.

Darren Murray made one enforced change from the side that lost to Celtic as Chris Tobin was ruled out with a knee injury. Callum Paterson returned to centre back with Chris Kane in midfield and Billy King playing wide left.

The game started in persistent heavy rain with the pitch, although very wet, was perfectly playable.

It was Kilmarnock who made the early breakthrough after just 3 minutes, but it was the Hearts defence that was culpable.  A short pass back by Brad McKay, allowed the Kilmarnock striker to get a toe to the ball, which Jack Hamilton then allowed to slip through his legs. Callum Paterson should have still managed to clear the ball but could only help the ball into the net.

Slowly, Hearts got into the game but it took until the 12th minute to get their first shot on goal when Billy King set up Callum Tapping at the edge of the box, but his shot was parried away by the keeper.  Two minutes later Hearts had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down after Jamie Walker looked to have been fouled but the referee decided to give a goal kick.

Hearts equalised after 15 minutes from a well rehearsed corner on the left from Fraser Mullen.  His cross was met by Brad McKay, arriving late, and he powered in a header from 16 yards.

Kilmarnock hit back almost immediately, when their striker got on the end of a long ball, but Callum Paterson showed good pace to get back and snuff out the danger. Hearts were next to threaten when Jamie Walker and Fraser Mullen combined down the right and the full back’s angled shot was pushed away by the Killie keeper.  Callum Tapping also brought out a diving stop from the keeper following a period of possession by Hearts as they put together a move involving the best part of 30 passes.

Kilmarnock were still very much in the game with Matthew Kennedy most prominent.  Two yellow cards  followed in quick succession as first Jamie Walker then Fraser Mullen both fouled the Killie winger as he drove at the Hearts defence.

Kilmarnock almost got their noses in front after 37 minutes when looping header from a free kick hit Jack Hamilton’s crossbar with the Hearts keeper beaten. However, Hearts profited immediately as they broke forward at pace to score their second.  A quick break allowed Jamie Walker a sight of goal from 15 yards and the keeper did well to block the initial shot, the rebound fell to Jason Holt but the keeper again made a magnificent stop, however he couldn’t do anything when Dave Smith followed up to score with the third attempt from 10 yards.

Hearts were now on top and went further ahead just before the half time whistle when Jason Holt made a good run down the right, got to the bye-line, then picked out a pass to Callum Tapping at the edge of the box who calmly placed the ball the ball high into the net past the keeper’s left hand.

Hearts made the first chance of the second half after 52 minutes when Kevin McHattie found space down the left and set up Jamie Walker 10 yards out for a shot that the keeper again saved well diving to his right.

Just a minute later Kilmarnock got themselves a lifeline when good work from Matthew Kennedy set up Ross Davidson at the edge of the box and he hit a fine shot across the Hearts keeper into the far corner of the net.

The goal gave the Kilmarnock side a boost and the game entered a period of entertaining end to end play.  Jason Holt brought out another save from the keeper from 20 yards, before Billy King stuck the bar with a curling shot from 22 yards. Kilmarnock hit back with a shot just wide of the post and a rasping drive from 30 yards was deflected off Callum Paterson onto Jack Hamilton’s right hand post with the keeper going the wrong way.  Dave Smith then struck another shot from distance narrowly wide.

Hearts finally settled the match after 75 minutes with a fourth goal when Jason Holt and Jamie Walker combined down the left for the latter to nick the ball past the advancing keeper.  The ball had probably crossed the line before the on-rushing Ryan Stewart made sure.

Both sides continued to press forward in the last 15 minutes but Jack Hamilton made the only save of note with a diving stop to his right.

Hearts were obviously the happier side at the final whistle, but Kilmarnock can take credit for their part in a very entertaining game where both sides sought to play football in difficult conditions.

Man of the math was Jason Holt who put on a terrific performance of skill and pace.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Paterson McKay McHattie

Walker (Carrick) Kane Tapping (Scott) Holt B.King (Stewart)

Smith

Unused Subs : Carswell, Thomson, A.King, Nicholson

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08-10-11 Hearts U19s 3-2 Hibernian U19s

Hearts returned to the top of the Clydesdale Bank U19 league after Callum Paterson and Billy King provided heartbreak for Hibs with two stoppage time goals to give Hearts a 3-2 win in the “wee derby” at Riccarton.  Hearts opened the scoring in 9 minutes with a header from Jason Holt, who had been released from his Scotland U21 duties for the occasion.  Danny Handling equalised in stoppage time of the first half, before Ross Caldwell put Hibs ahead after 71 minutes.  Hearts were denied by some last gasp defending as they created several good 2nd half chances.  Just when it looked that they would come out the game with nothing  to show for their efforts, goals in the 91st and 94th minutes turned the match around in Hearts favour.

With Jason Holt available, Darren Murray  made only one change from last week’s win against Kilmarnock with Ryan Stewart coming in for Billy King who started on the bench.

The game was played in a constant drizzle and the surface was very wet and slippery.   The conditions may have contributed to Hibs almost opening the scoring in the first minute,.  Brad McKay got caught with the ball stuck under his feet and was dispossessed by Danny Handling. The defenders blushes were spared after the striker’s shot from 15 yards was brilliantly tipped round the post by Jack Hamilton in the Hearts goal.

Hearts responded quickly and after 5 minutes won a free kick  22 yards out. Fraser Mullen took the shot, curling the ball over the wall, but off the face of the crossbar to the relief of the Hibs keeper.  Hearts were on top at that stage and the opening goal was only delayed until the 9th minute when  Mullen and Ryan Stewart combined on the right for the latter to cross into the box. Jason Holt stole in unmarked to glance a header just inside the post to put Hearts ahead.

The game settled down after the goal and gradually Hibs got into the game and gained an ascendency in terms of possession, although clear cut chances remained elusive for both sides.  Just when it looked as if  Hearts would maintain their lead until the break, Ross Caldwell made good progress down the right and cut the ball back for Danny Handling to lash the ball high into the net from 8 yards in stoppage time of the first half.  The 1-1 half time score was a fair reflection on the balance of play at that point.

The second half started as the first had done with a great chance for Hibs.  Ross Caldwell found himself in space in the box, but Jack Hamilton did well to force him wide, then to recover to tip a follow up shot over the bar.

Hearts were intent on taking the game to Hibs and on 54 minutes Jason Holt was unlucky to see successive attempts at goal blocked by defenders after a mazy run.   Dave Smith was next to have his goal bound effort beat the keeper but  was diverted off a defender for a corner.  On 64 minutes, Jamie Walker almost put Hearts ahead as he cut in from the left and his shot came off the keeper’s right hand post.  The rebound came too quickly for Callum Tapping and the midfielder knocked the ball over the bar with the goal gaping.

It was now one way traffic towards the Hibs goal and Jamie Walker was unlucky again on 69 minutes.  After picking the ball up on halfway, he made his way past a couple of defenders and fired in a shot from 25 yards that came off the keepers left hand post this time.

As always seems to happen in these situations Hibs went up the park and scored against the run of play on 71 minutes. Callum Paterson was caught in possession and lost out on a challenge.  The  ball broke kindly for Ross Caldwell to fire the ball past Jack Hamilton to put the visitors ahead.

Darren Murray reorganised things by pushing Callum Paterson up front with Chris Kane filling in at centre back.  Time was now on Hibs side as they sought to run the clock down taking the ball into the corners.  However Hearts weren’t finished.  As the game entered stoppage time, Hearts won a free kick 40 yards out. Fraser Mullen flighted the kick to the back post where it was met by Callum Paterson rising high above the defence to head home the equaliser, to much joy both on and off the park.

Hearts now had a sniff of victory and continued to press forward.  On one attack the referee stopped play to have word with Callum Tapping and a Hibs defender who were squaring up to one another.   The referee decided to restart play  with a dropped ball although Hearts had been in possession.  Rather than have the ball punted back up the park, Jason Holt decided to compete for the dropped ball 20 yards out from goal on the left.  He nicked the ball past the defender and got to the bye-line, then crossed with his left foot into the path of substitute Billy King who was able to side-foot the ball into the net from 6 yards.  Hearts comeback was complete and there was barely time to restart the game before the referee blew for full time.

At the final whistle, all the Hearts players, substitutes and coaching staff joined the celebrations of what was a great, if improbable, victory.   Hibs were devastated by the late turn of events and the previously substituted Danny Handling was red carded for dissent after full time.

Man of the match was again Jason Holt and he was ably assisted by good performances from Jamie Walker and Callum Tapping.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Paterson McKay McHattie

Walker (Carrick) Kane Tapping (Scott) Holt B.King (Stewart)

Smith

Unused Subs : Carswell, Thomson, A.King, Nicholson

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15-10-11 Hearts U19s 1-2 St Johnstone

Hearts youngsters were brought back to earth with a bump today as a very solid St Johnstone defensive display contained the Hearts attack with some comfort. Two pieces of opportunism by St Johnstone striker, Chris Kane, saw the Saints go two goals up. Kevin McHattie got a goal back with 8 minutes left, netting with the rebound from his own penalty kick. However, there was to be no repeat of last week’s heroics as St Johnstone held on without too many alarms.

Darren Murray made one changes to the starting line-up from last week’s derby win with  Ryan Stewart replacing the injured Callum Tapping.

Hearts started confidently with the midfield retaining possession well.  The first chance of the game came after 7 minutes when Dave Smith and Jamie Walker combined well to create an opening for the latter but the St Johnstone keeper saved well with his outstretched left leg.  A minute later Ryan Stewart had a good opportunity just 8 yards out but couldn’t quite get the ball under control before he was crowded out.

Against the run of play, St Johnstone opened the scoring after 17 minutes.  Their livewire striker, Chris Kane, burst clear with a run down the right channel and his text book shot across the keeper found the net just inside Jack Hamilton’s right hand post.

Despite the goal, Hearts continued to maintain their dominance of possession and after 25 minutes, Billy King fired over the top from a good position after one particularly good series of passes. Jamie Walker was next to try his luck with a shot from distance but his effort also went just over the top.

St Johnstone’s threat was limited to the odd break forward and on one such foray a cross from the right was headed over Jack Hamilton’s bar on the half hour mark.  The flow of play back towards the Saints goal was soon resumed.   Jamie Walker appeared to have been brought down in the box, but the referee waved play on much to the chagrin of the Hearts forward.

Kevin McHattie then hit a fierce left foot shot from 25 yards that the keeper was happy to parry away from goal.  Just before the break Hearts missed a great chance to level matters.  Good work from Ryan Stewart on the right saw him make space and his fine cross was met by Jason Holt, but the little midfielder’s header had too much downward force and the ball bounced up into the grateful keeper’s hands.

The 2nd half started quietly with neither side looking particularly threatening, however, on 55 minutes Chris Kane doubled Saints lead after he twisted and turned Hearts central defenders to make space for a low shot past Jack Hamilton from 15 yards.

Darren Murray immediately started to ring the changes, with Ryan Stewart going off to be replaced by 16 year old Sam Nicholson. Five minutes later 15 year old Jordan McGhee came on to replace Billy King.  Jordan took up his regular position in central defence with Callum Paterson moving upfield to a wide right position.

The substitutions failed to make any great difference to the play as the St Johnstone defence appeared to be containing Hearts with some comfort.  Hearts looked to be running on empty in the 2nd half and neither goal was threatened, bar one shot from the edge of the area that went wide of Hamilton’s right hand post, while at the other end a Sam Nicholson effort was diverted away for a corner.

With just 8 minutes to go, Hearts got a lifeline when Kevin McHattie was tugged back in the St Johnstone box and the referee awarded a spot kick.  Kevin took the penalty himself, but saw it well saved by the keeper to his right, but Kevin retained his composure to knock the rebound into the net.

It was all set up for a repeat of last week\’s comeback, but the closest Hearts got was a header from Brad McKay saved by the keeper and a last minute stramash that saw a couple of efforts blocked from Jason Holt.

It was a disappointing result for the Hearts youngsters and the 2nd half performance lacked the drive and urgency that was required. However, it may not do the team too much harm in the long run to be brought down earth with a bump. Best for Hearts was Fraser Mullen, although his set pieces were not up to his usual standards. Jason Holt once again showed his excellent technique on the ball, in front of Paulo Sergio and the rest of the 1st team coaching staff.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Paterson McKay McHattie

Stewart (Nicholson) B.King (McGhee) Kane Holt Walker

Smith

Unused Subs : Carswell, Scott Thomson, A.King

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22-10-11 Hearts U19s 2-0 St Mirren U19s

Hearts got back on the winning trail with a 2-0 victory over St Mirren at Riccarton this afternoon. Hearts were fortunate not to be behind at the break and were grateful for two excellent saves from Jack Hamilton and, on the one occasion the keeper was beaten, the post came to the rescue.  Half time substitutions and a number of positional changes were pivotal as Hearts turned the game in their favour with goals from 15 year old substitute Jordan McGhee and Billy King enabling Hearts to ultimately run out comfortable winners.

Darren Murray made one change of personnel and several positional changes after last week’s defeat against St Johnstone. Dale Carrick came in for Fraser Mullen who dropped to the bench while Ryan Stewart started at right back and Chris Kane and Callum Paterson swapped midfield and defensive roles.

In a low key start to the game, it was St Mirren created the first chance after seven minutes when St Mirren’s Jock Smith brought out a superb acrobatic one handed save from Jack Hamilton with a shot from the edge of the box.  It took until the 18th minute for Hearts to create their first opportunity when Jamie Walker struck a 20 yard volley just wide of the target.  A minute later, good lead up work by David Smith set up Jason Holt who tested the keeper with a shot from the edge of the box.

The game again entered a quiet period before St Mirren missed a golden chance after 36 minutes to take the lead.  A cross from the right was palmed out by Jack Hamilton into the path of striker Jon Scullion, who looked set to score, but the keeper made a fine block with his legs.

On 40 minutes, Dave Smith brought out a diving save from the St Mirren keeper with a shot from 15 yards. However St Mirren continued to look the more likely and the woodwork came to Hearts rescue after 43 minutes as Mark Lamont fired in a fine effort from 25 yards that hit Hamilton’s left hand post and was scrambled clear.

The Hearts players were happy to hear the half time whistle with the scores still level, but could expect some strong words from Darren Murray during the break.

Hearts duly made two substitutions at the start of the 2nd half with Sam Nicholson replacing Dale Carrick and Jordan McGhee coming on for Callum Paterson.  Several position changes saw Dave Smith moving into a striker’s role while Chris Kane moved forward to midfield.

The changes certainly help Hearts fluency as the passed the ball with more certainty. However once again it was St Mirren who had the first chance of the half when Jack Hamilton dropped a routine cross but the St Mirren player fired wide from only six yards.

That was the final alarm in front of the Hearts goal as they finally took control of proceedings,  Firstly Sam Nicholson tested the keeper, then Jamie Walker forced the keeper into a diving stop to his left.   Hearts finally got their noses in front after 62 minutes.  A Billy King corner was fired low into the box.  The ball broke to Jordan McGhee at the edge of the area and he neatly made a yard of space for himself before firing an unstoppable shot high into the net from 15 yards.

Sam Nicholson again went close following a run down the left, before Hearts went 2-0 up after 73 minutes.  Jamie Walker dummied to shoot from the edge of the box, but instead rolled the ball to his right into the path of Billy King who fired in a low shot past the keeper from 15 yards.

St Mirren’s players went down somewhat after that and Hearts could easily have added to their lead before the end as both Jason Holt and Jamie Walker had good chances well saved by the keeper.

Hearts would be happy with their 2nd half performance that saw them through to a comfortable win over a young St Mirren side who to their credit always sought to play football.  Best for Hearts were Dave Smith and my Man of the Match Jack Hamilton who kept Hearts in the game during the first half.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Stewart (Mullen) McKay Kane McHattie

Paterson (McGhee) Walker Holt Smith B.King

Carrick (Nicholson)

Unused Subs : Carswell, Scott, Thomson, A.King

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29-10-11 Hearts U19s 1-0 Dunfermline U19s

Hearts overcame blustery conditions and a stuffy Dunfermline side to stretch their lead at the top of the Clydesdale Bank U19 league table to four points with a 1-0 win. Hearts were indebted to substitute Billy King who first won a penalty , then got up to score from the spot himself after 75 minutes. Billy’s 6th goal of the season brought him level with Callum Paterson as Hearts joint top scorers.

Darren Murray rewarded last week’s substitutes Jordan McGhee and Sam Nicholson with starting berths and welcomed back Callum Tapping from injury with Callum Paterson, Billy King and Dale Carrick dropping to the bench.  Dunfermline’s line-up included former Hearts and Scotland U17 centre back Scott Campbell.

The strong wind was very evident in a scrappy opening period, with players on both sides struggling with the weight of passes and set-pieces which were regularly over or under-hit.  Jason Holt had the first meaningful effort at goal in the 3rd minute with a shot from 25 yards but the ball cleared the crossbar by a yard. Dunfermline’s first attempt at goal came after 16 minutes with an effort from the corner of the box but that too went over the top. Chris Kane was first to test either keeper after 22 minutes with a well struck shot from fully 30 yards that the Dunfermline keeper handled comfortably.

Both sides continued to struggle to create chances as defences dominated, with youngsters, Jordan McGhee and Scott Campbell prominent for each side.  The half time whistle came with neither side having tested the goalkeeper to any great extent.

The wind dropped and the sun came out for the second period making conditions much more pleasant for everyone.  It was Dunfermline who started on the front foot with Jack Hamilton forced into saving a shot from the edge of the box above his head. The Hearts shot stopper then proceeded to make the best save of the game on 57 minutes, when Alan Smith dispossessed Brad McKay in the middle of the Hearts half and ran in on goal.  Jack made a brave save diving at the feet of the little striker.

Darren Murray decided to make changes with 20 minutes left with top scorers, Callum Paterson and Billy King replacing Callum Tapping and Jamie Walker.  The substitutions, as they did the previous week, were to prove key to the final result. Hearts immediately started to move the ball with more urgency with both the new faces prominent.

The only goal of the game was to come on 75 minutes when Billy King danced away from one defender, but was immediately brought down by a second challenge.  The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty, which Billy King took himself, sending the keeper the wrong way for the breakthrough.

Dunfermline pushed forward once more but repeatedly left themselves exposed to the quick break.  The closest to a goal came with 4 minutes left, when Jack Hamilton made a sharp save low to his right from Blair Henderson.  That was to prove the last chance of the game as Hearts held on to what they had.

Best for Hearts were Jack Hamilton and my man of the match Jordan McGhee, whose next game will be for Scotland’s U16 side in the Victory Shield match against Northern Ireland.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Stewart  McKay McGhee McHattie

Walker (Paterson) Tapping (King) Kane Holt Smith Nicholson

Smith

Unused Subs : Carswell, Mullen, Scott, Thomson, A.King, Carrick

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01-11-11 Inverness C.T.0-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts continued on the winning trail with a good performance to win 2-0 away to bottom club Inverness C.T. Hearts opened the scoring just on half time when Dave Smith capitalised on a quick throw in to fire a low shot from 25 yards into the net. The youngsters completely dominated the second period, creating and missing a string a good chances, before Brad McKay headed a Fraser Mullen corner into the net with just four minutes left.

Darren Murray made a number of positional and personnel changes for their visit to the Highland football Academy at Dingwall. Jordan McGhee was unavailable for selection, while Sam Nicholson and Jamie Walker dropped to the bench and were replaced in the starting line-up by Fraser Mullen, Callum Paterson, Billy King.

Underfoot conditions were good and the sun was shining brightly, but a strong crosswind initially caused problems for both sides. The game opened at a frantic pace with both sides working hard to close down and deny space to opposition players. The first chance fell to Hearts after 10 minutes when a terrific cross from Ryan Wallace finding Callum Paterson at the back post, but his header was off target. Inverness hit back with a similar effort two minutes later that went just the wrong side of Jack Hamilton’s left hand post.

Hearts gradually got on the ascendency as the half progressed with half chances falling to Dave Smith and  Ryan Stewart. Kevin McHattie was next to go close but his net bound shot was blocked by a defender.  On 25 minutes, Jason Holt threatened to score the goal of the season after a mazy run that beat four or five defenders but he was eventually crowded out.

Just when it looked as if the half would end scoreless, Hearts took the lead in the final minute of the half.  Callum Paterson took a quick throw-in on the left to Dave Smith, who turned away from his marker and fired in an early shot from 25 yards that beat the keeper at his near post.  Hearts just about deserved their lead but the home side were clearly disappointed not to hold out until the break.

The second half saw Hearts pressing the game further still and in the process pushed Inverness increasingly onto the defensive.  Chances came at regular intervals, with Dave Smith, Billy King, Callum Paterson and Kevin McHattie all missing the target when they might have done better.  Jason Holt did test the keeper after 74 minutes with a well struck shot from 25 yards that the keeper held confidently.

Inverness scarcely threatened during the half as both Chris Kane and Brad McKay were winning everything that came their way.  As the chances continued to come Hearts way it seemed only a matter of time before the visitors would add to their their lead.  However, it took until the 86th minute before they did so.  Substitute Jamie Walker chase a lost cause down the left and managed to block a clearance that fell nicely to him.  He headed for goal but rather selfishly took on the shot himself when he had better options available.  However, he did win a corner which was swung in by Fraser Mullen and met by Brad McKay, whose header found the top corner of the net to put Hearts two goals to the good. It was no more than they deserved.

Sam Nicholson might have added a third in the final minute but his angled shot was well saved by the keeper.

The two goal margin flattered the home side a little but Hearts were content to extend their lead at the top of the table and to keep a clean sheet for the third successive game.  Indeed Jack Hamilton in the Hearts goal had scarcely a shot or a cross to deal with throughout the 90 minutes.

Hearts were well served on the day by the two centre backs and my Man of the Match, Jason Holt, who ran the midfield area.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Kane McKay McHattie

Stewart (Nicholson) Smith Tapping (Scott) Holt Paterson

King (Walker)

Unused Subs : Carswell,  Thomson, A.King, Carrick

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05-11-11 Hearts U19s 4-3 Rangers U19s

It was fireworks all the way in this bonfire night clash at Riccarton.  In a cracker of a start to the match, six goals were shared between the two sides in the first 32 minutes, with Hearts twice recovering from being two goals behind.  However the ending was even more explosive.  Five minutes into stoppage time Fraser Mullen fired in a rocket of a free kick in off the post to give Hearts the victory and a league double over their Glasgow rivals.

Darren Murray made one change to the starting line-up from the side that beat Inverness in midweek, with Jamie Walker replacing Billy King in the starting eleven.  Ryan Stewart started up front for the first time as Darren shuffled his resources.

Hearts started quite brightly, moving and passing the ball well.  However, on their first foray up the park Rangers scored the opener after 8 minutes.  A corner on the left was not cleared properly and the return cross was headed, unchallenged, into the net by the Norwegian full back Tom Skogsrud .  It was a poor goal for Hearts to lose defensively.  Hearts looked very shaky in central defence as another headed chance went just over the bar on 10 minutes.  It was clear that the height of the Rangers side were causing difficulties and the warnings weren’t heeded a minute later when Rangers doubled their lead from another set piece.  On this occasion a free kick wasn’t cleared properly and the second cross found Kyle McCausland unmarked six yards out and he made no mistake from the header.

As has been their way this season Hearts refused to lie down.  Jamie Walker was causing the Rangers defence no end of problems with his touch movement and balance.  It was fellow midfielder Dave Smith who went close on 22 minutes with an effort from the edge of the box that struck the foot of keeper Alan Smith’s right hand post.  A minute later, Hearts were back in the game when Jamie Walker cut in from the left and fired in a well struck shot from 20 yards that went under the diving keeper’s body.

Hearts pushed forward for an equaliser but got hit on the break after 25 minutes.  Callum Gallagher latched onto a long ball down the right and beat Brad McKay at the bye line.  His cut back found Robbie Crawford lurking at the edge of the box and his low shot nestled in the corner of Jack Hamilton’s net.

Back came Hearts immediately with Jamie Walker dribbling into the Rangers box where he was tripped.  The referee had no hesitation in awarding a spot kick that Jamie took himself, sending the Ranger keeper the wrong way to half the deficit.  Five minutes later Hearts were back on level terms.  This time the Rangers defence failed to clear a set piece as the ball fell to the feet of Brad McKay.  The centre back showed good composure to score with an angled shot from 15 yards into the far corner of the net.  3-3 after just 32 minutes, what a game it was proving.

Hearts were now in the ascendency but there were no more goals before the interval.

The second half started in a similar vein to how the first half ended, with Hearts the better passing side while Rangers threatened in the air and in the physical challenges. Ranger struck a shot just wide of the post then Callum Paterson passed up a good opportunity after 55 minutes when he headed over the bar from a good cross from Ryan Stewart.  Dave Smith was next to try his luck forcing a diving save from the Rangers keeper.

Midway through the half, Hearts created the best move of the match with some intricate movement and passing play involving half the team that resulted in a cross from Callum Paterson finding Ryan Stewart 8 yards out, but his effort at goal was fingertipped past the post by Alan Smith in the Rangers goal.

Not to be outdone at the other end Jack Hamilton came to the rescue with a couple of fine stops to deny Lewis McLeod and substitute Kim Skogsrud, twin brother of Tom.

It was looking increasing likely that one more goal would win the match.  Kim Skogsrud thought he had won it for Rangers with a close in shot after 82 minutes, but the goal was correctly ruled offside.

Rangers were to rue that chance, as in the fifth minute of stoppage time Hearts substitute, Billy King, won a free kick at the corner of the box on the left side of the pitch.  It was ideally set up for Fraser Mullen to hit and he didn’t disappoint the good number of Hearts fans watching as he hit an exquisite strike into the far top corner out of the reach of Smith, off the inside of the post and into the net.  It was a strike worthy of winning any game.

It was to prove the last kick of a very entertaining game, that Hearts shaded based on the quality of their play which was as always very pleasing to the eye.

Notable performances for Hearts came from Callum Tapping and goal hero Fraser Mullen, but I’ll give my Man of the Match to Jamie Walker whose fitness and performance are improving with every game and he showed what the benefit of scoring goals does for one’s confidence.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Kane McKay McHattie

Paterson (B.King) Smith Tapping (Nicholson) Holt Walker

Stewart

Unused Subs : Carswell, Thomson, A.King, Scott, Carrick

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12-11-11 Hibernian U19s 2-1 Hearts U19s

It was cup heartache for Hearts youngsters in the SFA Youth Cup 3rd Round tie at Easter Road as their recent cup hoodoo against their local rivals continued. After going ahead with a Fraser Mullen goal after 62 minutes, Hearts conceded an equaliser from Hibs Ross Caldwell, with just three minutes left, to take the game into extra time.  Five minutes into extra time it was Caldwell again who put his side ahead when he latched onto a long punt from his keeper and fired an unstoppable shot past Jack Hamilton.  Try as they might, Hearts were unable to force the game into a penalty shoot out. The Hearts side were deflated at the final whistle but should be proud of the effort they put into an entertaining encounter.

Darren Murray stuck with the starting line up from last week’s comeback win over Rangers. Jordan McGhee took a place on the bench, while Dale Carrick, Michael Thomson and George Scott all missed out due to the limit of five players on the bench in cup ties. The conditions for the game were perfect with sunshine, little wind and a well grassed Easter Road pitch.

Hearts started the better, moving and passing the ball confidently, however, it was Hibs who created the first goal scoring opportunities, first on six minutes when Phil Addison struck an angled shot of the face of the bar, then a minute later Ross Caldwell crossed for Danny Handling to hook a volley the ball over the bar.

Hearts were not to be outdone, as a neat Jason Holt pass found Jamie Walker at the edge of the box and he brought out a good diving save from Paul Grant in the Hibs goal.  Jamie Walker was the architect of Hearts next chance after 12 minutes when he beat the full back and got to the bye line and his cross found Callum Paterson at the back post, but his header was well saved again by the keeper at the expense of a corner.

Hearts had established some control of the match at this point and on 21 minutes Jamie Walker thought he had put Hearts in front with a spectacular overhead kick from 15 yards, but was left agonising as the Assistant Referee’s flag was raised for offside.

Kevin McHattie was next to test Grant in the Hibs goal after 26 minutes as he saw his shot palmed away for a corner.  Hibs were content to try to hit on the break and from the previous Hearts corner, a long clearance from the keeper almost elude the Hearts defence but Jason Holt did well to get back to nullify the threat.

David Gold received a yellow card after 31 minutes and from the resultant free kick Fraser Mullen fired his shot just over the bar.  Chris Kane was next to see yellow with a lunging challenge on Sam Stanton in front of the Hearts dugout, which although he got the ball, the referee deemed the tackle as dangerous.

The half time whistle blew with the sides still level but with Hearts the better side in terms of possession and chances in what had been an entertaining match.

The second half started rather quietly with neither side imposing themselves on their opponents.  The first action of note didn’t come until the 62nd minute, but it brought the opening goal to Hearts.  The ball was worked from a throw in on the left then across the edge of the box by Jamie Walker  who played the ball back to Fraser Mullen. Fraser played a one-two with Callum Paterson at the edge of the box whose perfectly weighted  return pass was drilled low past the keeper from 12 yards.

Hearts had a lucky escape on 67 minutes when Sam Stanton played a great ball into the path of Ross Calldwell who had a clear run in on goal. Jack Hamilton did well to force the striker wide and his shot came back off the upright. The rebound was blocked by Hamilton, but fell to back to Stanton who saw his shot cleared of the line. It was the closest Hibs had come to a goal.

Substitute Euan Smith had Hibs next chance on 71 minutes but headed wide from a good position. Hibs had eased themselves right back into the game as Hearts were content to sit back and look to hit on the counter attack.

Just as Hearts appeared to be coping comfortably with the Hibs attack, a defensive lapse gifted Hibs an equaliser with just 3 minutes left.  Indecision by Kevin McHattie allowed the ball to bounce and Ross Caldwell was quick to latch onto the loose ball to strike it past Jack Hamilton from 12 yards.  The goal was enough to take the game into extra time.

Hearts substitute, Billy King was first to test the keeper,  4 minutes into extra time after being set up on the left by Jamie Walker and his angled shot won Hearts a corner.  The keeper gathered the corner and sent a long clearance into the Hearts half where Ross Caldwell held of Jason Holt and struck a fierce shot past Jack Hamilton from 15 yards to give Hibs the lead.

Sam Nicholson missed a great chance to get Hearts back on level terms in the 101st minute, when Jamie Walker made a great run down the left and his terrific low cross needed what looked like the simplest of tap-ins but Sam contrived to knock the ball off the crossbar from just two yards out.  It was to prove Hearts last good chance of the match as the second period of extra time was played out without any great alarms at either end.

Hibs celebrated as if they had won the cup themselves but Hearts were left wondering how they managed to lose a game they had controlled for long periods.

Jordan Forster and Sam Stanton were best for Hibs while Hearts were best served by Jason Holt and Jamie Walker, but I’ll give my Man of the Match to Fraser Mullen who, apart from his goal put in a shed load of work both in defending and attack, allied to some excellent ball skills.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Kane McKay McHattie

Paterson (B.King) Smith Tapping (A King) Holt Walker

Stewart(Nicholson)

Unused Subs : Carswell, McGhee

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18-11-11 Hearts triple investment for the future

Hearts have demonstrated their intention to invest in youth and the long term future of the club, by signing up three of the best U19 prospects in the country. Jason Holt, David Smith and Jamie Walker have all put pen to paper in signing contracts that will keep them at the club at least until 2014.

Jason, David and Jamie are currently among the the best prospects in Scottish youth football.  All three are established Scotland youth internationalists and Jason was voted SPL U19 Player of the Year for 2010/11 as a first year U19.  All are products of the Hearts Youth Initiative  having spent several seasons playing together for the Academy  teams.  It is a tribute to John Murray, Darren Murray and the other Academy coaches to see their work rewarded in the form of senior contacts for their charges.

It is hoped that they will be able to progress to first team football in the not too distant future.

21-11-11 Hearts trio go out on Loan

Hearts have confirmed that the three U19s, Jason Holt, David Smith and Jamie Walker, who signed senior contracts just last week have gone on a short term loan to Raith Rovers. This is the latest step in their development with the ultimate aim of getting them ready for first team football with Hearts.

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19-11-11 Hearts U19s 2-0 Kilmarnock U19s

Hearts bounced back from last week’s cup disappointment with a comfortable win at home to Kilmarnock, despite fielding several youngsters in a much changed team selection. Two second half goals in as many minutes from Callum Tapping, with a fine strike from 28 yards, and Sam Nicholson with a spectacular volley, were enough to seek off a plucky Kilmarnock side that always tried to play football.

Darren Murray made several positional and personnel changes following the previous week’s cup reverse and the unavailability of midfield trio, Jason Holt, Jamie Walker and David Smith, together with the injured Ryan Stewart .  Dale Carrick started up front with the King brothers, Adam and Billy, and Sam Nicholson also coming into the starting line up.

Hearts were first to threaten with a 25 yard shot from Billy King just going wide of the target after six minutes.  The same player went closer still just a minute later.  A corner on the right was played back to Fraser Mullen and his cross found the head of the elder King but his effort came back of the upright.

Kilmarnock then squandered their best chance of the game after 13 minutes. It started with a Hearts corner that was cleared up to striker Jude Winchester who broke clear of the Hearts defence.  Jack Hamilton forced Winchester wide which gave Adam King just enough time to get back onto the goal line to stop the striker’s effort on goal.

Hearts hit back with a series of three headed chances, first Brad McKay saw his effort saved, then Callum Paterson saw his header from a Fraser Mullen corner come back of the post and into the grateful keeper’s hands.  Kevin McHattie was next to try his luck when his header from another Fraser Mullen went just past the post when he really should have done better.  Sandwiched between the Hearts chances was a free kick to Kilmarnock wide on the right that Jack Hamilton had to parry round his near post.

Darren Murray changed things after 36 minutes with Jordan McGhee coming on for Dale Carrick.  Jordan took his place alongside Brad McKay at the back while Callum Paterson moved up front.  The replacement striker missed a great opportunity to open the scoring just on half time when he found himself in space just 10 yards out but his weak side-foot shot was deflected away by the keeper’s legs. Just seconds later, as the ball was returned into the box, Callum volleyed his shot just over the bar.

If Hearts were disappointed not to be ahead at the break, they started the second half with purpose.  In 49 minutes Callum Paterson, almost got a toe onto a great Callum Tapping cross that flashed across the face of the goal.

It only seemed a matter of time before Hearts would get their reward, and so it proved.  Ten minutes into the half the Kilmarnock defence could only clear a corner to the feet of Callum Tapping, 28 yards from goal, and his measured strike found the top right hand corner of the goal  It was the midfielder’s second goal of the season which came from a similar strike, also against Kilmarnock.

Hearts doubled their lead just two minutes later with a contender for goal of the season.  A Fraser Mullen cross found Sam Nicholson at the far post and finished superbly with an acrobatic volley  that flew past the keeper before he could move.

Kilmarnock tried hard to get back into the game and came close after 69 minutes with a 22 yard free kick from Ross Lindsay that clipped the top of Jack Hamilton’s crossbar with the keeper beaten. Three minutes later, Jack Hamilton was forced into a diving save to his right, but that was as close as Kilmarnock got.

The remainder of the game was a bit disjointed as the play was interrupted by regular substitutions, which was to Hearts advantage as they saw out time with no further alarms.

It was an encouraging win for a young Hearts side and it gave experience to a number of U17 and fringe players who will make up the backbone of next season’s U19 team.  Best for Hearts were captain Chris Kane and my man of the match, Brad McKay

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Mullen Paterson McKay McHattie

Nicholson (Thomson)  A King Tapping (Scott) Kane B King

Carrick (McGhee)

Unused subs:  Carswell, Beith

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27-11-11 Celtic U19s 1-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts consolidated their lead at the top of the table with a fantastic comeback from a goal down against Celtic at Barrowfield.  After a goalless first half, Paul George put Celtic ahead three minutes into the 2nd half.  Darren Murray immediately reorganised the shape of the side and it paid off with goals from Callum Tapping and Callum Paterson in the last 10 minutes giving the youngsters a deserved win.  It is a measure of their resilience that they have now come from behind to win six times this season.

The game only went ahead after a 10am inspection following heavy overnight rain in the Glasgow area.  The pitch was soft but playable and the wind had eased a little from the previous day’s gales.

Darren Murray sprung a bit of a surprise with his formation, playing five at the back with Fraser Mullen playing a “sweeper” role reminiscent of the 1970s & 80s, four across the middle and one striker.

The game opened quietly, with both sides looking for weaknesses but finding none.  Indeed, it took until the 15th minute for the first shot at goal which was a tame effort from a Celtic free kick that Jack Hamilton gathered comfortably.

The game soon settled into a pattern which continued for the remainder of the half with Celtic enjoying most of the possession, while Hearts were content to sit in and hit on the break.  Celtic looked to keep width in their play while Hearts countered with selfless closing down by Billy King up front and Dale Carrick and Sam Nicholson on the flanks.

It was Hearts who created the best chance of the half on 23 minutes when Callum Paterson broke out of defence at pace following a Celtic corner. He carried the ball all the way up to the edge of the Celtic box before playing in Sam Nicholson. Sam took the ball round the Celtic keeper but could only hit the post from a tight angle.

Celtic’s biggest threat came from crosses into striker, Omar Bogle, but the Hearts central defence stood firm and Jack Hamilton’s handing was sound.  As the half came towards its conclusion, Hearts were forced to concede a few free kicks around the area which came to nothing, although Brad McKay and Fraser Mullen both received yellow cards following one series of challenges.

A goalless first half was probably a fair reflection on the play and the few chances that were created by either side.

Celtic opened the second half with purpose and it was no surprise when they went ahead after 48 minutes.  Paul George picked up the ball on the left and cut inside a couple of would be tacklers and fired a low shot past the diving Hamilton’s left hand and into the corner of the net.

Darren Murray reacted immediately by reorganising the team’s shape to provide more offensive capability.  Fraser Mullen joined the midfield and the two wide men were pushed forward to provide support Billy King in a 4-3-3 formation. Despite the changes, Celtic continued to dominate possession during the early part of the half, but were limited again to cross balls and long range shots.

After the hour mark Hearts started to get more into the game in an offensive sense, creating a couple of half chances for Sam Nicholson. The first was a poor attempt at repeating last week’s volleyed goal from a Ryan Stewart cross which trundled through to Robbie Thomson in the Celtic goal.  The second came from a great crossfield pass from Fraser Mullen that found Sam wide on the left.  He cut in onto his right foot and fired in a good shot from 25 yards but it was straight down the throat of the Celtic keeper.

Hearts missed a great opportunity to get on level terms after 65 minutes when Dale Carrick dispossessed Filip Twardzik but Robbie Thomson made a good save at the young striker’s feet.

Hearts suffered a blow after 71 minutes when Chris Kane suffered a leg injury that forced him off the field.  Kane’s departure resulted in another reshuffle as Jordan McGhee came on as substitute in central defence while Brad McKay took up Chris Kane’s role in midfield.  The change did not affect the flow of the game as Hearts were now in the ascendency as Celtic sat back intent on preserving their lead.

Hearts might have gone down to 10 men after 78 minutes after Fraser Mullen brought down Paul George in a challenge that may have merited a second yellow card in other circumstances.  However the referee didn’t even speak to the Hearts player.

Hearts continued to drive forward and eventually got their reward on 81 minutes.  First Billy King and Dale Carrick were thwarted, but the ball broke to Callum Tapping 20 yards out. Callum neatly sidestepped a challenge and created space for a left foot shot the beat Robbie Thomson low to his left for Hearts equaliser.

Hearts almost got their noses in front with five minutes left when Callum Patterson rose high to meet a Fraser Mullen Cross but his header was glanced just of target. The Celtic defence should have heeded the warning as just a minute later Hearts did go ahead.  A free kick on the right was swung in by Kevin McHattie and Callum Paterson found himself in space and rising above Thomson to head home from six yards.

There was to be one final twist deep into stoppage time, when Celtic won a free kick 25 yards out.  Twardzik’s free kick looped up off the wall and into Jack Hamilton’s hands but the keeper inexplicably lost control of the spinning ball.  Two Celtic players attempted to force the ball over the line but got in each other’s way and the ball squirted wide of the goal. It was a to prove the final action of the match and the keeper’s blushes were spared.

Today’s win was an important result for the youngsters who extended their lead at the top of the table to 8 and 10 points ahead of Hibs and Celtic respectively, although both of them have games in hand.  It is to their credit that they were able to continue the series of come from behind wins without the services of arguably their top three midfielders who had made their loan debuts for Raith Rovers the previous day.  All three were watching from the sidelines which demonstrated good camaraderie within the whole squad.

Best for Hearts were Chris Kane before he went off and my man of the match Callum Paterson, who had his best game thus far in central defence.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Stewart Paterson Mullen McKay McHattie

Carrick Tapping Kane (McGhee 71) Nicholson

B King

Unused subs:  Carswell, Thomson, Scott, A King, Oliver

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03-12-11 Dundee United U19s 0-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts youngsters continued their winning form with a workmanlike performance at St Andrew University playing fields to beat a young Dundee United side 2-0. Hearts got off to a great start with a headed goal in the first minute from Sam Nicholson.  The second goal came midway through the second period, but with a bit of good fortune about it.  A mix up in the United defence resulted in a cross deflecting off Billy King and trickling over the line. The win keeps Hearts clear of the chasing pack at the top of the league table as they go into the Winter break.

Conditions for the game were good for December. The pitch was well grassed, with a bit of give in the ground and the weather was cool with bright winter sunshine and a fresh breeze.

Darren Murray stuck with the eleven who finished off the previous victory against Celtic, although there were a couple of positional changes with Dale Carrick starting as the lone striker and Billy King on the right of a five man midfield.

Hearts couldn’t have asked for a better start with a goal in the opening minute.  The ball was worked to the overlapping Ryan Stewart wide on the right and his cross found Sam Nicholson in space at the far post.  Sam’s looping header floated over the keeper and dropped into the far corner of the net to put Hearts in front.

Dundee United did not appear phased in any way by going behind so early and took the game to Hearts, particularly through their wide player Ryan Gauld and striker Jordan Moore.  United passed up a good chance to get level midway through the half but the shot from around the penalty spot went over the bar.  Jack Hamilton was forced to make his first save of the game after 26 minutes, moving smartly to his right to block a shot at his near post.

Hearts were next to test the keeper after 33 minutes after a free kick from Fraser Mullen eventually fell to the feet of Callum Paterson who got his shot away only for the keeper to make a smart stop. Ryan Stewart then had the United keeper tip his effort just over the bar.

United should have levelled matters on 39 minutes, when Jordan Moore cleverly made space in the box to leave himself with a clear view of goal, Just when it looked as if he was certain to score, Jack Hamilton made a superb  diving stop to his right.

Half time came with Dundee United probably feeling a little aggrieved that they were not at least on level terms as they certainly had created the better openings.

The second half started in an even fashion with both sides creating half chances but the shooting was somewhat awry. Jordan Moore, Callum Tapping, Kevin McHattie and Ryan Gauld were all guilty of missing the target when well placed.

Hearts doubled their lead in 65 minutes, but it was rather fortuitous to say the least.  An innocuous cross from the right looked to be a simple task for the United defence, but miscommunication between the goalkeeper and a defender allowed the ball to rebound off Billy King and trickle over the line for the striker’s 7th goal of the season.

I don’t know if the second goal deflated United or lifted Hearts but the visitors started playing much more instinctively with one and two touches and it allowed them to dominate the game for the first time.  This led to a succession of attempts at the home goal.

Brad McKay was first with his attempt at goal from 25 yards but the ball flew just over.  A well worked one-two between Ryan Stewart and Sam Nicholson created an opening for the former, but the keeper pulled off a good say diving to his right.  Fraser Mullen then fired just over from 22 yards. Next Sam Nicholson then latched on to a long pass from Billy King down the right. His cutback found Callum Tapping 15 yards out, but the midfielder screwed his effort wide of the post when he really should have done better.

After 84 minutes Billy King fired in a great strike from fully 30 yards, but the keeper showed good agility to get his fingertips to the net-bound effort to concede a corner.

Jordan Moore had one further attempt at goal for United with three minutes left, but again he was off target.

The final whistle blew with Hearts deserving their win, but it was only in the last quarter that they exerted control of the game.   It wasn’t the most fluent performance of the season, but Hearts still ran out comfortable winners in the end.

Darren’s side can be proud of their achievements this season as they go into the winter break seven points clear of Hibs at the top of the table with the same number of games played.   Celtic do have 4 games in hand over the leaders, but are fully 13 points behind.

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Hearts line up

Hamilton

Stewart Paterson McGhee McHattie

B King Mullen Tapping McKay Nicholson

Carrick

Unused subs:  Carswell, Saunderson, Thomson, Scott, A King, Oliver

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07-12-11 The Darren Murray Interview

Under 19 coach, Darren Murray gave a comprehensive interview to HYDC earlier this week, providing a mid season report on the U19s and his thoughts on a number of topical subjects affecting the club.  Eric Clelland asked the questions.

What were your expectations and concerns before the start of the season with the squad you had and how you wanted to play?

Well I thought that we would be similar to last year, where we had a good style of play and we wanted that to continue. We thought we had the players in the positions to do that and that we would be able to pass the ball as well as we did last year. Going into the pre-season we had a few guys with the first team so the rhythm of the team got broken up a bit. I always thought that having Denis Prychynenko’s 14 goals taken out the team we would struggle to score at times, especially the fours and fives that we were doing last season.  He was such a threat and that was a concern for us.

My concern going into the season was that with the loss of the physical presence of the centre backs, Denis, Jordan (Morton) and Rob (Ogleby) was that there was a risk of being bullied, albeit the technical ability was as good as it has ever been.

That’s a fair comment. I’m thinking about Jason Holt, Brad McKay, Chris Kane, Fraser Mullen and Kevin McHattie and they’ve all played and developed, with Brad at Penicuik, so we still had a strong spine to the team. Those you mentioned were physically strong players, so there was a chance that could have happened but it hasn’t worked out that way.

You brought in a new conditioning coach in Dave Sykes. What was the thinking behind that?

John Currie got the job at Sunderland, so obviously the opportunity was there for Dave to come in. He did well in the interview. He’s done very well since he’s come in. He’s forward thinking, does a lot of planning and he’s good on the training field and the gym with the boys.  He had a tough act to follow in John but he’s been excellent. We are all happy with him.

Moving onto the pre-season matches themselves, the schedule was similar to previous years with games against East of Scotland and Junior sides.  However I thought that the preparation was a bit piecemeal as you had to accommodate trialists and some of the older players in some games?

It’s always difficult in pre season because, regardless of who the manager is, sometimes they want certain players to get a game. As much as you want to concentrate on your own team you have to think about the other players and their fitness.  I thought they did reasonably well.  The 2nd half of the Vale of Leithen game was the only disappointment but apart from that they did ok.

What did you learn from the pre-season games?

I think I definitely learned that we couldn’t play 4-3-3 all the time, we had to get someone closer to the striker, because he didn’t have the physical presence.  We played 4-2-3-1 a bit this season where we can get someone closer to the striker.  It was different last year when we had a physical presence in there who could run the channels, hold up the play and wait for support. When it goes up to a striker who is not the most physical, then you have got to get someone there quicker.

Going into the first league games, you sprung a surprise by going into the games with Callum Paterson at centre back although he hadn’t played there in previous games?

People still question that now, but believe me, but Callum Paterson is going to be a very good defender. In my opinion, whether he is going to be a centre back or right back, I think he has a real good chance playing there.  The way I set out the team to play I think he is more suited to play in defence.  If you create an identikit for a centre back, he’s got to be very good in the air, he’s got to be quick to cover in behind and he’s got to be able to pass the ball. Positionally it will take Callum a bit longer to learn the role and he has still got a bit to learn, but at 6’ 2” with all those attributes he must have a chance.

The first few games obviously went your way with wins over Motherwell, Dundee United, Rangers and Aberdeen, coming from behind a couple of times. How did you see it?

I thought the start of the season was really good. I thought we passed the ball about well.  I think the games in general in the youth league have been of a decent standard, with the majority of teams trying to play football, trying to get the ball down and pass it. In the Aberdeen game we battered them in the first half and could have been two or three up.

Onto the Celtic game, it seemed a strange sort of game to lose as you did.

I wasn’t that disappointed with that game. I thought we controlled it. They’ve probably gone back to Glasgow and said that they’ve done a job on us and won 2-0.  You’ve got to remember that Celtic spent close to £650,000 on their U19 squad and John Murray has put our side together for £16,000. Don’t get me wrong though, Celtic have got some terrific young players.

Moving on from there, Kilmanock away, then the last minute win against Hibs at home.

Kilmarnock was a great game, probably one of the best games of the season.  It was horrible weather but in terms of the quality of football played by both sides it was a tremendous game.

I was delighted with the Hibs game. I think the number of games we have come back from losing positions says a lot about the players. As much as you want to score the first goal, knowing that you can come back in a game is a great thing to have. It shows their commitment, hunger, desire and there’s a will about them.  It shows their fitness as well. It’s something you speak to them about, even in training if a team goes behind there’s a belief about them that they can get it back. They think they can win all the time. For young players it’s a great thing to have. You can’t buy or coach a winning mentality. It’s got to come from within.

Any thoughts on the controversy at the end of the Hibs game with the dropped ball?

They stopped. The referee clearly put his hand out and dropped the ball. Jason Holt is a clever player and he took it on in his stride.  At the end of the day, Hibs had only themselves to blame.

Back down to earth again with a bump the following week against St Johnstone.

That was the one game this season that I have been so disappointed, even including the youth cup tie at Easter Road. I knew going into that game, that week had been a strange week. They were on such a high after beating Hibs, I just felt that something wasn’t quite right.  I told them that this was going to be their hardest game of the season so far.  It was proven that I was 100% right.  Again we missed two or three gilt edged chances in the first 10 minutes when we were on top, but we paid the price.

You then had some comfortable if unconvincing wins against St Mirren, Dunfermline and Inverness C.T. How did you see those games?

These games are important and as much as we didn’t play well, these are the types of games that maybe a year ago they might not have won.  In terms of their mentality they have shown it positively in bouncing back from a bad defeat, winning games and not conceding.

You introduced a new face with Jordan McGhee coming into the St Mirren game. Is he one for the future?

I’ve got to be honest with you that regardless of their age, if they are good enough and playing well enough they will play in the U19s. I’ve done it in the past with Scott Robinson, Jason Holt at 15 playing with the U19s. There is nothing stopping the boy, if he’s doing well enough, he’ll play.

The home game against Rangers resulted in another last minute victory, but the defending wasn’t the best.

That was probably the poorest defensive performance of the season. It was from two second phases of set plays that we conceded. We went over that the next week.  That’s youth football for you. You lose goals like that but from then we haven’t looked like losing goal like that. We practised our defending of set plays because when something like a corner is played in and knocked back out they mustn’t lose the guy they are marking from the first phase. It’s something we nailed and they’ve done it very well since.  It was a great strike to win the game, but I preferred the winner against Hibs.

The Youth Cup tie against Hibs must have been another disappointment for yourself and the team.

If you had a look at the game in general, you get to the 86th minute and your back four have been tremendous and haven’t missed a thing all day. Caldwell hadn’t had a sniff, but they hesitated for a moment and the ball fell between Kevin and Brad and we paid the penalty. The second goal was a big hoof up the park. Nothing can hide the disappointment from getting beat from them in another cup tie, end of story.  We can talk about missed chances but at the end of the day they beat us again.

How did you pick them up after that one?

With difficulty. It was difficult to pick myself up far less the players, but we got there.  I think they have responded in the right manner.

Following the cup defeat you lost the three to Raith

I spoke to John Murray and it was not because of the cup defeat that they went. It was because I felt that, as their coach for the last 3 or 4 years, they needed a greater challenge and to step up a level.  Come January, you don’t know how many players will leave from the first team so we had to get these boys ready. It’s a challenge for them but it’s also an opportunity for Sam Nicholson, Adam King, and Jordan McGhee to play for the U19s.

The team bounced back with a win against Kilmarnock then managed another comeback win against Celtic at Barrowfield.

The Barrowfield result really pleased me.  We had lost the three to Raith Rovers and I had gone to watch them play against Hamilton on the Saturday and they were very good, just about the best players on the pitch. The first team had also won on that Saturday, then going through there on the Sunday, it was set up for us. We hatched a plan playing a 1-4-4-1 with Fraser in behind, allowing them to have the ball.  Looking at chances created, Sam Nicholson maybe should have scored after a great break by Callum Paterson on the counter attack and the pass laid into Sam’s path.   The worst thing they did was to score just after half time, because as soon as that happened I just changed it and went with our usual 4-3-3.

I thought you made a telling point with about 20 minutes left when you told the guys “don’t do anything stupid” and to “stay in the game” What was your thinking?

In a young players mind, when they are 1-0 down, maybe coming into the last 20 minutes they might go flying into a tackle or do something they might not normally do. That’s why I told them to keep themselves in the game because you’ve still got a chance. I thought their defenders believed they still had time on the ball, but we had changed our system to deny them time on the ball.  Fraser got away with one and after that I thought it was thoroughly deserved to be honest

The last game before the break against Dundee United possibly wasn’t the best performance but a good result all the same.

It was a workmanlike performance. They had one or two chances and Jack made one great save, but once we got the second goal we could have scored three or four.  I thought Billy King in that game was absolutely outstanding. With the boys away on loan he can now play more so his confidence rises and I think you can see that with him. We swapped him and Speedy (Dale Carrick) after the Celtic game as Speedy is more comfortable though the middle while Billy has that bit of quality out wide.

How do you feel going into the last seven games?

We’re in a good position, let’s be honest.  It would be great for the boys if they went on to win the league, but at the end of the day the most important thing for me is hopefully to see Jason Holt, Jamie Walker and Dave Smith in or around the first team. Scott Robinson, Denis, Ryan McGowan, Arvydas, you can name a whole host of them. I get a huge buzz going to Tynecastle watching the players I’ve coached playing in the first team.

Five of the seven games you have left are away from home. Is that an issue?

I prefer playing away from home.  The pitch here isn’t the best and you always find that teams tend to come out a bit more when they are at home and that leave a bit more space for us to play as well so it’s not a problem.  All the games left are key games.  You can’t pick and choose. There are obviously two or three more difficult games but they can all be difficult. It’s just made for the last game of the season against Hibs to be vital, but it has to be one game at a time at the moment and we’ll see where we are come the end of the season. The manager and the coaches, Paulo, Gary, Alberto, Sergio will tell you that if you trust them you have more than half a chance and I trust every one of my players right now. I can put them into the team and they will do a job.

What’s the injury situation at the moment?

The good thing is that we will definitely have Chris Kane and Chris Tobin back. For me, Chris Tobin has been a massive miss for the team. You don’t know how much you miss him until he’s not there. He’s such a good passer of the ball for the way we want to play.  Aaron Murdoch should be there or thereabouts by the time we get back, so everybody should be fit.

What happens during the winter break for the players?

They will have a couple of football sessions, but they will also have three or four weight sessions each week. They will get three or four days off over Christmas and New Year, but they will be rota’d to come in to keep them ticking over.  We’ve got Kevin McHattie going on loan to Alloa until 21st January. There might be one or two others of the older ones going out as well but we’ve got a number that may train with the first team as well. I think we will pick up one or two friendlies before the league restarts on 4th February

What’s the status of the three who have gone out to Raith? Will they all be back in January?

We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Whether they all came back or not in January will be open to debate whether the manager wants them with the first team squad, or whether we need them in the first team squad because of numbers. We will need to wait until then to make the call on that. For me the boys are better playing first team football.

In terms of individual improvement who has impressed you?

I think Callum Paterson has got to be mentioned in that. Take the boys out the equation who are away on loan because they have improved, but I see a big improvement in Callum, Billy King, Sam Nicholson has come in and done great, Ryan Stewart has come back, Fraser’s doing well. I think it has to be a collective thing I don’t think it’s right to single out individuals. Everybody is getting better at the same stage.

What’s your thoughts on the younger age groups?

The U17s and U15s have got some really good players. The U17s have had an excellent season up until now, but what will happen, because the three are away to Raith, is that I take three of the U17s and there’s a knock on effect, so their results might get worse for a while. I then look at the younger guys coming in and see how they are responding. It works all the way down through the age groups. We’ve got Jordan, Sam and Adam King coming through at the moment. Gary Oliver has done very well, he’s a technically gifted player, a very clever player who can score goals and he links the play up well. He’s in full time at the moment and we’ve also got left back Mark Keegan in full time to see how he does. Gary Graham might have a chance as a striker as well. Some of the U16s are actually very good. Angus Beith has already been on the bench with the U19s and he’s an excellent young player, Zack Williams, wide left player, needs to work on his positional sense, but on the ball he is very quick, direct and can score goals. There are a few coming through.

What’s the situation with the U19s going forward given we know the three recent signings and Callum Tapping all have contracts for next year?

It looks like there may be an U20s league next year. I think the plan is to play these games on a Monday night so there might be an opportunity for a number of the (19)93s in the U19s to be kept on for another year so it will be up to myself John and the manager to take a look and identify those that we’d like to give another year.  It will probably be beneficial for the current second year U19s to get themselves another year to see if they can develop more and push for a first team place.  Although it’s going to be an U20 league we’ve still got to look at the likes of Jordan McGhee and Sam Nicholson. The problem, especially with Sam, is he can’t play U17 next year and if he doesn’t play U20s, then he doesn’t play.  That boy’s technically gifted and has got a real chance, so I’ve got to make sure the boy is playing.  We will be able to play a couple of overage players in the U20s but we’ll have to see if we can do the same with the U17s just to keep them playing.

There are financial issues going on around the club at the moment, wages not paid, possibly a number of senior players leaving. What’s your thoughts with regard to the younger players here?

The younger guys have been paid. There is no problem there. It’s a great that they are getting their money so there’s no complaints.

On their development, I personally think that there has got to be a pathway through to the first team, where the only players in your way are those who are already first team regulars. For the really good young players, you see that pathway and you see someone sitting on the bench and you think I’m every bit as good as him. Because of the number of football players at the club, for too many young players there just isn’t that pathway at the moment, but if we can get players moved on then the pathway becomes clearer for the good young ones. Instead of thinking, I might be used, they will now think I have a real chance here.

Instead of maybe getting pulled in once a week for training with the first team, they are there all the time.  I think that will develop them quickly.  I still think that there is a good core of professionals at this football club that will help the younger lads when they get there. It will benefit, not only the development of the young players but in the end the first team will benefit.  We have got some terrific young players at this club.

Has there been a loss of motivation for those that stepped up in the last two or three years?

I think there is a bit of that, but you can’t blame the boys for taking up the contracts that were offered. That’s the whole thing about the pathway.  If you have 25 or more first team players then the young lads, how are the young lads going to get through, because if one experienced player goes out then they can just put in another experienced player in. That’s what it’s been like here for a number of years because the squad is so big.

What about the guys who are currently out on loan at the moment. Who do you see coming back and making it?

I’m an optimist. I’d like to think that Jason Holt, Jamie Walker and David Smith could play in the Hearts first team. Denis Prychynenko has got to have a chance. Rob Ogleby has been scoring goals at East Fife. Mark Ridgers has definitely got a good chance.  Some years back this club had a lot of older guys and they introduced John Robertson and players of that ilk. That was the easiest time to get players into the Hearts team, because the lack of finance meant they had to do it.  In the last four or five years when I’ve been involved it’s probably been the hardest time to get them in because there’s been so many experienced players around.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’d like to thank HYDC for the support they have given to John Murray, myself and the academy players over the year. I’d also like to record my personal thanks for the support over the season from John Murray and the coaching team of Jonathan Craig, Chris Smith, Dave Sykes, the new physio, Quinton Caufield, John Yule and the rest of the Sports Science team.

I’d like to thank you personally for your contribution the website. It’s great for me and the players that you come to the games and get pictures and the thing about your reports is that they are honest. There’s not many websites that are affiliated to clubs that are as honest as the HYDC website. That is the most transparent and open thing I can say about the website. What you see is what you get and there is nothing said that you could argue with.

Thanks for your time Darren.

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31-12-11 Spartans 1-1 Hearts U19s

A very young Hearts U19 side shared the spoils in their Hogmanay friendly with East of Scotland league leaders, Spartans, at Ainslie Park this morning. Hearts went ahead when Sam Nicholson latched onto a pass inside the full back from Callum Tapping to fire low into the net.  The East of Scotland side hit back with a headed goal from Dean Hoskins from a free kick on the right..  It was an excellent workout and welcome match practice for the Hearts players who mostly still qualify for U18, U17 and U16 levels.

Hearts fielded a very young side for today’s friendly against Spartans, with only captain Callum Tapping in his last year at U19 level. The game gave Darren Murray to see a number of bright prospects at U17 and U16 in action.

Spartans created an opening in the first minute but Jordan Finnie shot straight at Jack Hamilton.  Hearts hit back with a charge out of defence by Callum Paterson, but his final shot was off target.  Jack Hamilton then blocked another goal-bound effort on 15 minutes when Omar Kader escaped the Hearts defence.

Hearts then threatened when firstly Gary Oliver forced a good stop from Chris Flockhart in the Spartans goal, then Angus Beith and Sam Nicholson combined well down the left but Sam’s shot was over the top.

The game was end to end at this stage and on 20 minutes Dean Hoskins fired a free kick just wide of the post.  The same player went closer still after 27 minutes with another perfectly struck free kick from the corner of the box that Jack Hamilton finger-tipped just over the bar for the save of the match.

Hearts hit back once again and went ahead with a well executed goal after 37 minutes.  Callum Tapping was the provider with a perfectly weighted pass inside the full back to find Sam Nicholson who cooly slotted the ball past the keeper from 15 yards to put Hearts one up.

The goal seemed to settle Hearts as they started passing the ball more confidently as they enjoyed their best period of the match. Half time came with Hearts a goal up in what had been a very even and entertaining encounter.

Spartans started the second half brightly, and substitute Jack Beesley test ed Jack Hamilton once again with a shot that the big keeper did well to palm away for a corner.

Spartans were the better side at this stage and it was no surprise when they got back on level terms after 58 minutes.  A free kick on the right  was sung into the box by Jack Beesley and was met perfectly by Dean Hoskins who headed powerfully past Hamilton for the equaliser.

Hearts looked to have restored their lead just a minute later when Sam Nichloson was found in space by Callum Tapping and slid the ball under the keeper, only for the Assistant Referee to judge that Sam was in an offside position.  It looked a marginal decision.

The parity of play resumed with half chances at either end as both sides sought a winning goal. The best chances of the last quarter came from a Callum Tapping shot that went over the top from a good position and an Angus Beith effort that was blocked away for a corner.  The final chance of the game fell to Spartans’ Omar Kader who forced Jack Hamilton into another good stop after a good run down the right.

The full time whistle blew with score level which was a fair reflection of an entertaining match.  Best for Hearts were Jack Hamilton, Callum Paterson, Callum Tapping and Sam Nicholson.

Hearts line up

Hamilton (Carswell)

McDonald (Trialist) Paterson McGhee Beith

Carrick A King (Keegan) Tapping Scott (McMillan) Nicholson

Oliver

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03-01-12 HYDC speaks to “The Scotsman”

HYDC chairman, Calum Robertson,  spoke to the The Scotsman’s Barry Anderson about the the aims and fundraising activities of HYDC in its support of youth Development at Hearts.  Read the text of the full article taken from The Scotsman’s website, below.   Scotsman Link

By Barry Anderson

Published on Tuesday 3 January 2012 09:19

NEW Year, new dawn. Hearts’ principal aim for 2012 is youthful prosperity with a host of academy graduates expected to replace experienced mainstays in the first team. Kids like Jason Holt, Kevin McHattie and Denis Prychynenko are the club’s lifeblood, but they would be in no position to seize the opportunities awaiting them without the Hearts Youth Development Committee.

But for the HYDC, there would be no Riccarton football factory. At least, not in its present thriving state. As Scott Robinson, Ryan McGowan, David Templeton and Gordon Smith prepare to cement themselves at senior level this year, the next generation is already hot on their heels. Holt, Prychynenko, Jamie Walker and David Smith are currently on loan at Raith Rovers, McHattie is at Alloa, with Rob Ogleby and Mark Ridgers at East Fife. All were farmed out for first-team experience and finances dictate their promotion may come sooner than expected back at base.

That thought is exactly what Calum Robertson, chairman of the HYDC, lives for. His committee is a fiercely independent body generating its own funds solely to subsidise Hearts’ youth development programme. They pay for equipment, youth team pre-season tours and even funded McHattie’s transfer from Dunfermline to Hearts in 2010 at a cost in the region of £20,000.

The committee is made up of fans and independent businessmen whose common interest is the long-term future of Hearts. From Gary Locke to Robbie Neilson to Craig Gordon to Robinson, they have been staunchly behind the progress of the club’s youngsters. Working in tandem with academy director and new director of football John Murray (below), plus under-19 coach Darren Murray, they are now eager to plough more money into Riccarton. The notion that an increasing number of prodigious players will gain first-team exposure this year only increases their motivation.

“We work directly with John Murray. We trust John’s judgment,” explained Robertson. “We’ve never refused to buy anything for him if he’s asked us. We sign the cheques, nothing goes through Hearts, we’re an independent body. Right back to people like Gary Locke there have been kids coming through the academy system at Hearts.

“It’s not up to us to disagree with John or Darren, it’s up to us to fund them and we want to get more money through to them. John is on our committee and attends all our meetings. Anything he wants he asks us for personally and he and I have to sign it off. We’re trying to run it as close to a business as we can, but we’re relying on the supporters for donations from various organisations like the Hearts Shareholders’ Association, the Federation of Hearts Supporters’ Clubs and Jamboskickback, the fans’ internet forum. They all donate money direct to us and we are all trying to work closer together.

“I’m quite ‘in your face’ and I think partly because of that the club have been very supportive of us. We do have a link with the club now and they understand what we’re doing. Hopefully they appreciate that we’ve put in a fair amount of money. Sometimes it’s thousands of pounds, sometimes it’s less. But we aren’t a bottomless pit.

“I get a buzz watching Hearts on a Saturday and seeing the likes of Scott Robinson in the team. We had Kevin McHattie make his debut against Aberdeen earlier in the season. He’s one we know we’ve had an involvement in because he was the first under-17 player we funded. The others have been younger. It was great seeing him come on to the park that day because we can then say to people that the HYDC does work.

“I don’t think the academy gets as much credit as it deserves. Despite all the things you hear, John and Darren have a bunch of really level-headed boys up there. When I’m up there watching the under-19s it’s a such a great feeling because you know what you’re doing is working. Even when the three young boys went to Raith recently, people were worried. The under-19s’ next game was away to Celtic, who won the league last year, yet Hearts beat them even without Holt, Walker and Smith.”

The HYDC does not currently receive proceeds when a home-grown player is transferred on. “It’s not happened yet but we’ve had discussions with the club about it,” said Robertson.

Fundraising is the main priority and the HYDC hosts events throughout the year to ensure money is available when the academy requires it. “It’s only recently that we’ve started paying the compensation fees for young players joining Hearts from other clubs. John came to us and said, ‘I’d like to bring a player in, can you pay for it?’ We are all part of Hearts and we all want the best for Hearts but we are independent from the club. If Hearts don’t have it, we’ll pay the money if John wants a certain player brought in. It’s small amounts but we’re dedicated to the future of Hearts.

“Things we pay for can vary from analysis equipment to heart monitors to pre-season tours for the boys. Normally we pay for them to go to the Foyle Cup in Ireland, previously it was the Milk Cup. We couldn’t do any of it without large donations from the other organisations I’ve mentioned. Sometimes, after discussions with John, they might agree to pay for something and he’ll tell them to give the money to the HYDC and it gets paid for that way. It’s just so it doesn’t get lost in other things that might be happening.

“We’re continually trying to raise funds with events like our annual Burns Supper, Young Player of the Year Dinner, annual golf day and a sportsman’s breakfast. Our young player of the year is adopted as Hearts’ official young player of the year. The future looks like it’s going to be youth and the supporters’ organisations have picked up on that. If they know the money is going direct through us then they can say to their members that they’ve funded heart monitors or analysis equipment or whatever. Rather than just giving Hearts a donation and not knowing where it’s going to go.

“We want to be the link between supporters and Hearts. I’m confident that, once people become aware of what we’re doing and maybe attend an event or two, they’ll stay with us. Our events are very professional, it’s just a matter of getting people involved with us. One of our biggest incomes is through the monthly draw, which takes place on the pitch during the first home game of every month. It’s £5 a month and we pay out £650 in prize money. I’d like to get more people involved in that because it is only £5. All you need to do is log on to www.hydc.co.uk and click on the bouncing ball on the left of the page.

“We have our website name on the strips of the academy teams from under-12s through to under-17s. We now have stuff in the matchday programmes too. So we are trying to get out there and let the fans know what we do because now youth is going to become even more important.”

There are many satisfying moments for the HYDC committee members which don’t always attract publicity. Often, it can be a player’s performance at under-19 level or an expression of gratitude from a youth coach.

“At our Young Player of the Year dinner earlier this year, a special award was given to Denis Prychynenko,” recalled Robertson. “It was the George Nicholson recognition award in honour of the late HYDC chairman. As his name was announced, every one of his team-mates stood to applaud him. He’s a young kid living in a foreign country and making a success of it and we’re all trying to help him. That proves the academy system is working.

“My wife works at Riccarton and she says it’s sometimes a nightmare to get Denis out of the place. Training has long since finished yet he’s still booting balls about practising himself even though other people have booked the facility. Other players fed off that dedication and it had an effect on the whole team so he deserved that award.

“Our duty is to support John Murray in what he’s doing because it’s the future of Hearts. John hasn’t got a lot wrong. If you can produce on average two players a year for the first team then your academy is working. Nobody brings nine, ten, 11 players through. I think Hearts consistently bring two players through into the senior squad. As Hearts supporters, sometimes there isn’t a great deal to be proud of. But the academy has never waned. That is something to be proud of and I think we should be singing from the rooftops.”

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07-01-12 Fraser Mullen First Team Debut

Congratulations to U19 full back, Fraser Mullen, on making his first team debut in today’s William Hill Scottish Cup 4th Round tie against Auchinleck Talbot.  Fraser recovered from the ignominy of an early penalty miss to contribute positively to the team’s victory.

Fraser Mullen became the latest of Darren Murray’s star pupils to make their first team debut in today’s 4th Round Scottish Cup tie against Auchinleck Talbot at Tynecastle.  Fraser played the full 90 minutes and helped his side to a narrow, although well deserved, 1-0 victory and passage into Monday’s 5th round draw.

It wasn’t a particularly conspicuous start for the full back as saw his 20th minute penalty well saved by Andrew Leishman in the Talbot goal. The miss didn’t appear to affect him much as he went on to have an excellent game setting up good scoring opportunities for Rudi Skacel and David Templeton.

Manager Paulo Sergio commented on Fraser’s debut on the Hearts official site as follows:

The game saw the debuts of two youth team prodigies in the shape of Fraser Mullen and Jordan Morton, and despite a missed penalty from full back Mullen, Paulo singled out the youngster for praise “Although not everything worked today, this is the future of Hearts. There were some nervous moments but I have not lost my faith in them”

Paulo continued “I thought Fraser was man of the match. I didn’t tell him to take the penalty. I was screaming to Scott Robinson but the kid took the ball. I like this he showed guts. The kid showed courage to take the ball. It meant a lot to me. A missed penalty will not affect my analysis. I thought he did a great job and played like a veteran.”

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13-01-12 John Murray Interview

Director of Football, John Murray,  gave an interview to HYDC, describing his role within the Academy and as Director of Football, together with his views on current issues for youth football and the club.  The interview was carried out on 13th January 2012 and the questions were asked by Eric Clelland.

What’s your footballing background and how did you come to be at Hearts?

I first got into scouting when I was working with a company called FMC in Dunfermline and I gave a couple of names of players to one of my friends who was with Bolton at the time. A job then came up at Cowdenbeath which I applied for and got it. Through that job, I got to know Billy Brown by taking some players from Musselburgh juniors.  Billy then took me to Falkirk to join him and Jim Jefferies and I was there for seven years. They then approached me to come to Hearts in 1995 as Chief Scout and Head of Youth Development.  I took up the role of Academy Director when it opened at Riccarton in 2004.

What is the role of Academy Director?

The ultimate aim is to get the best players into the academy and ready to play for the first team. My day to day function is to make sure that Riccarton runs smoothly for both the academy and the first team and to look after the infrastructure.  That includes looking after all the scouting, coaching, making sure that everything is in place from Disclosure Scotland, initiative teams lines, to all other documentation relating to the youth side.

What is the role of Director of Football at Hearts and has it impacted on your role as Academy Director?

My love is the youth side and that hasn’t changed. They’ve asked me to take on this role, which is a dual role of looking after the players coming into the youth side and with the aid of Darren Murray and Gary Locke, hopefully developing them into the first team and maybe selling them on to keep the club viable. I normally do the Directors role during the day and the Academy role in the evening. I like working at Hearts and it hasn’t changed.

I’m a conduit for teams coming to ask about players at Hearts and trying to bring other players in, so I’m more involved with the first team, talking to the manager, seeing what he wants. You try to get a portfolio of players you want to bring in and others you want to move on.  I make sure that any offers for players in or out are good offers before you take it to the board and they take it from there. That’s the way it has always been at Hearts and at all other clubs. I put the proposal forward to the four people on the board and they have the final say.

Academy

How is it funded?

The money comes from the club. The club also receives an annual grant from the SFA for running an Academy. That grant will go up next year as they are trying to put in place a structure of Elite Performance Academies which Hearts want to be. That will increase the funding for the Academy.  Hearts also get a solidarity payment from the SFA, which comes from UEFA and is meant to be used to invest in facilities like training centres

The budget for the Academy covers the infrastructure and the running costs and as such is funded roughly 70% from the club and 30% from the SFA.  That covers all the youth coaching, other staff, minibuses and all the costs associated with the lease of the facilities, maintenance, heating, lighting etc.

What’s the relationship with the University?

It’s been a great tie up with the University. We couldn’t afford to run the Academy as we currently do. We couldn’t even afford the land as property in Edinburgh is so expensive.  The pitches could be better but we are meeting with the University on a monthly basis to upgrade the condition of the pitches and provide more access.  All the maintenance costs are met by the university and that keeps staff numbers and associated employment costs to Hearts down.  We are seven years into a 25 year lease and we pay a rental that covers all those costs.

Scouting for Talent / Recruitment

How is Scouting carried out for the Academy?

We currently have 12 scouts.  They have the important job of getting the right players in. It’s not easy because there aren’t as many good players available as in past years, especially locally.

The scouts look at players from 8 to 15 and should watch at least 4 games every weekend but sometimes that’s easier said than done.

Most of the scouts will watch boys clubs games but we have one who is dedicated to watching initiative games from 14 down, because that’s where the least compensation is paid.

We get calls from coaches, maybe once a fortnight asking us to look at certain players, We take a look at them but generally they are not at the standard we have here.  Some people believe that the players at the boys clubs are at the same standard as the initiative players, but you tend to find that most of the good players are already playing youth initiative football, but there is always an exception and we must keep looking. Last season we brought in Brad McKay and Callum Paterson who have both done exceptionally well, so we must always keep looking

What attributes are you looking for in a player?

We as a club and the way the 19s and the 17s age group play mean that we look for technically good players, players with pace, I like players with aggression, I like players who listen and learn, players with the right attitude and a good motivation to move forward in their career

What’s your view on the approach of the top boys clubs? e.g. Hutchie Vale

What you find is that most boys clubs and players from 13 up want to win the Scottish Cup. That is their be-all and end-all. Hutchie Vale has developed good players, locally, over a number of years, as have Tynecastle and various others.  Eventually most players want to move on to play at the top level, either here or in England.  Ultimately they have to be able to play against the best and that is what initiative football offers

What are the issues recruiting prayers from other clubs? e.g. transfer fees, compensation.

The main issue is compensation. I believe in compensation, people should be rewarded for the work that they do with players and that applies to boys clubs as well. Certainly the compensation figure is slightly above what I think it should be but you have to budget for bringing players in.  We as a club will bring in two or three good players per age group every year, but ideally you might want six or seven per year, so you have to go out and find those four or five outwith the club

How is the current financial situation at the club affecting recruitment?

At the moment we have to go to the board and ask for funding to sign a player, which is the way it has always been. Sometimes we find that money is or isn’t available.  It’s a lot of money if we want to get maybe four players per age group in each year, so we have to carefully target the specific players we want.

Coaching

What is the coaching structure at Riccarton?

John Cockerell’s has a role that is aligned to mine overseeing the coaching across all the age groups.  There are two coaches at each age group, four who look after the 9s and 10s plus specialist goalkeeping coaching.  All coaches are qualified as they have to be.

The main centre is at Riccarton, but we have regional development centres in Fife , Ravenscraig in Motherwell and at Clyde’s Broadwood Stadium in Cumbernauld primarily for the youngest players.

What is the approach at each age group? (fitness, playing, diet, learning)

The club doesn’t have a nutritionist at the moment which is a bugbear as we want to do a survey on the players.  We have the website which we want to develop to improve the information available and increase interaction with the players. We hope to bring in a nutritionist later this year.

Fitness wise we are probably have the best sports scientist set-ups in the country regarding what we do with the players. We check the players regularly for their height, weight, their growth. In particular we develop players from 14 on with regard to weights programmes.

How much coaching do the receive (how many kids, how often, how long)

That’s another bugbear. We have players in from four and a half to six hours coaching plus a game, each week, but that’s probably not enough. However, I do believe that to bring kids in five nights a week is too much. Two nights is too little so I think that four nights is probably about right, but that affects the budget as it means getting coaches in and we don’t have the means to do that at the moment.

Are all teams coached to play in the same way?

The coaches of the teams that play seven a sides generally allow players just to play the game as we want them to get more touches of the ball.  This year most of the teams will play 4-3-3 which is the way the Manager wants to play or 4-2-3-1 which he sometimes uses depending on the players available. From February onwards in the Academy we will just play the two systems.

What direction or guidance is given to Darren Murray?

I just give Darren advice if and when he asks for it and keep him up to date with any changes which may affect the current structure. You have to let coaches develop naturally and see how good they are. I think that Darren has improved 100% over the last few years how he approaches the games and coaches the players. he’s very much a technical coach. He wants players to pass the ball. Results have been good, but they are not the main criteria, which is a good thing. He’s bringing though a lot more younger players now, but it says a lot for him that, in the 17s and 15s, coaches as bringing through the technical players that we want through the system.

National Initiatives

What are your views on the proposed changes in the pro-youth football structure for next season following the McLeish report and the appointment of Mark Wotte as the SFA’s performance director?

I think that the Elite Academy Structure is something I agree with although I believe that it is coming in too early as I think that many clubs will find it difficult to meet the criteria they are looking for. But I think it is a step forward trying to improve the facilities and trying to develop better players.

The academy structure where kids go to the same school is a big step forward but some kids and their parents will want to stay at other schools where they are happy at.  There should be more academies in Scotland teaching the young kids.  It’s a matter now of putting the meat on the bones but in theory everything looks pretty good.

What’s your view on the proposed regional network of schools and their impact if any on the pro clubs?

I think it’s hard to get all your players to the one school. The SFA are proposing to bring in a number of elite players from the Edinburgh area into an Edinburgh School, so you may get players who are signed by Celtic or Aberdeen attending the Edinburgh school and will receive extra coaching there. The Edinburgh school may not help the local clubs but it’s a good step forward and a revolutionary step that could provide benefits in four or five years time.

How has the current financial situation at the club affected the operation of the academy?

It’s well documented that the club has financial problems at the moment and we are trying to get money in for players, but I think by the end of this season if we can do things we are hoping to do then the club will be a more viable proposition. I think we have spent loads of money over the years on a big squad of players but I think we will be a lot leaner and a lot smaller squad next year. We have to go back to base and move forward rather than move forward then be forced back.

What’s your view on a competitive league U17 league next season.

That is still a proposal that hasn’t been agreed as yet. The fear factor is that once you start having competitive football all the players don’t get a chance to play. Whereas we like to think that we develop all the players. I think that when you get into any league you want to win games but that’s not necessarily the be-all and end-all.

Increasing reliance on academy players

How are we placed at the moment?  Do we have players ready to step up?

I don’t think we have enough. Players have to come into the system and develop. Good young players are just good young players. Until you have played around 20 games with the first team you are still a young player. We have some very good young players here, as have a number of other clubs in Scotland, but you have to give them the chance to develop and be patient with them and to pick the right player at the right time to put into the first team.  We have the players who could play for the first team, but they need the character to be able to go and do that.

What has been the problem in recent years with the transition from youth to senior football?

I think that throughout Scotland and in some other parts of Europe, once players come out of the youth system they are treated as first team players. In general first team players train less than youth players. I think that youth players have to look to develop and improve throughout their careers. I don’t think we train enough in technical and other aspects of training.

It is hard for young  players in clubs with a big squad trying to see a way forward when there may be three or four player in front of you. It’s all very well for the club to say that they will promote young players, but if you have 60 players in front of you then you need avenues for players to move into.

Mangers are based on results. Clubs may say that they want to bring young players in, but as soon that the results go the wrong way the managers are sacked. Managers are more comfortable working with experienced players and introducing young players into the squad gradually, but if the club’s policy is to promote from within and the squad is the right size then young players will eventually get their chance as Managers work to get the best out of the whole squad.

Do we have good quality throughout the age groups?

Not enough. In each of the age groups we have probably three or four good players who will develop up to U19, which is when we judge them.  Every football club in Scotland that develops players without spending money will get two or three good players, but as we develop our U19 or U20 squad for next year and beyond then we probably need five to seven good players coming through the system each year.

Rather than give a chance to some players who aren’t quite good enough then we need to go out and get players in who are good enough. We should be spending some money to bring in two or three good players at each age group to improve what we have.  Sometimes there will be a player who you don’t think is good enough but will develop better than another player, but we really need to concentrate on getting the right players in at U14 or U15 that you think will have a chance of making the first team in five or six years time.

Short term plans

How many more players do you expect to leave? (now and in the summer)

The club are looking to a first team squad of 24 or 25 next season, so I think we are looking at 14 or 15 players leaving. There are a number of players who are out of contract between now and the end of the season.  The Manager will decide on who he wants to keep of those players and put that forward to the board who will say yes or no.  There will also be an U20 squad of around 15 or 16 plus maybe up to another five from the youngest age groups in order to establish a year on year progression from 16 through to 20. That means we will have to be very selective about who comes through the system

How many more youth players will be given full time contracts?

The U20 team will be allowed two overage players plus a goalkeeper, so the overage goalkeeper may be your first team sub goalkeeper. Decisions have still to be made, but it is likely that several new contracts will be given as we establish the U20 squad, although some of the current U19s may well be released. In future years we will probably only see four or five players earning full time contracts each year.

What is likely to be the status of the youngest of the full time players still playing U17 or just coming out of the U17s?

Ideally we would like to put these guys out on loan for the first year so that they are not coming into their first season of full time football unprepared to play against grown men, so it may be the preferred option to loan them out to an East of Scotland or Junior side for the first year. But as we are seeking to develop young players, we may take the hit and integrate them fully and play them.

Looking Forward

Looking at the players currently at the academy, how many, or who, has a realistic chance of “making it”?

You can never tell who will actually make it.  Holt, Smith and Walker have the capability to play for the first team, Brad McKay, Kevin McHattie could play with the right development and has already made his 1st team debut, Callum Tapping will develop as a player, Fraser Mullen has been the first to make his debut this year.  Sometimes it’s down to luck of being in the right place at the right time and you need to make the best of that opportunity.  It can be down to an injury or a suspension.  Scott Robinson made his debut at a very young age, then was left out, but is now back in and doing very well.  Until they actually get the chance to play with older players you cannot tell how any individual will develop as a player themselves.

What are the names to look out for in the next few years?

Jordan McGhee is a very good player. Angus Beith is a good player. Sam Nicholson is already developing as an U19 player. There’s some of the U15s like Aaron Scott, Sam Daniels, Connor Duthie and Nathan Flanagan who are potentially very good players but the next two or three year period is a massive step in their development.

Who have been the best players you have had at the academy?

The best player I have ever seen go through the Academy is Jamie Walker. I think he has some deficiencies in his game, but there are things that he does which you appreciate and you see are real quality. Jason Holt has real quality. There’s Dave Smith who is quality but probably works harder than others. Work rate is probably his main attribute, but he’s a very good player who you think could handle the physical side of the game better than the other two at the moment.

Looking back, you may be surprised but Stephen Simmons as a young boy was exceptional, but he had some aspects of his game that didn’t develop. Through the age groups and the years Simmons was a top, top player.

What are your plans for using the funds raised by HYDC over the coming year?

The big thing we want to do at the moment is to get the website developed to improve the interactive element between the club, the players and their parents. We want to set up drop boxes and email accounts to improve the two way communication.

The shareholders association gave us money for an extended tripod to improve the quality of recording of matches. We are looking at a new software package to improve the video analysis capability.  We are also looking to be able to make match recordings available to players and coaches on their iPads and iPhones within a day of the game.

We are looking to enter the U17 side into this summer’s Milk Cup after an absence of a few years.  The U17 age group is a difficult one for all clubs as it is a two year age group, but in the Milk Cup there are very good players there. We have won it twice before when we did have a very good team.  This team is well organised group and is developing into a good squad. We wouldn’t go there with a team that was inferior as we have done in the past. They may not win the thing but we feel that it will help their development.

It’s been great to have the support of HYDC. When you look at Christophe Berra, Lee Wallace, Craig Gordon and now Eggert Jonsson you realise how much it means to have extra support for the funding of the Academy.  Special thanks must also go to the Shareholders Association who have kindly donated money every year for specific projects.

Thank you for time John.  I think we are all looking forward to seeing the continued success of the Academy and the emergence of young talent in the Hearts first team.

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18-02-12 Aberdeen U19s 1-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts U19s resumed their league campaign after an extended winter break with a fine win away to their Aberdeen counterparts. Top scorer Billy King got Hearts off to the best possible start with a cool finish from a Callum Paterson pass after just five minutes. The young Dons equalised five minutes into the 2nd half but the never say die attitude of the Hearts side saw them score a late winner from Dale Carrick with just three minutes left.

Despite the layoff the Hearts players looked sharp from the off, although Brad McKay was careless in possession after two minutes, conceding a free kick at the edge of the box, but the danger was cleared without alarm. Two minutes later Callum Paterson was first to try his luck at goal with a shot from 25 yards that went over the top.

Aberdeen went close on five minutes with a shot from McManus that appeared to be blocked on the line by his own player. As the ball was cleared Hearts launched an immediate counter attack as the ball was fed to Callum Paterson on the right side and he drove forward at pace down the flank, outpacing the defence in the process. He looked up and squared the ball to the unmarked Billy King 10 yards who stroked the ball past the helpless Danny Rogers in the Aberdeen goal.

The keeper, however came to Aberdeen’s rescue first with a good stop at his near post from another Billy King effort, then excelled with a brilliant double save from Callum Tapping after 20 minutes that left the Hearts midfielder shaking his head in disbelief.

The game was end to end, but Hearts were more assured in possession. Ryan Stewart and Chris Tobin just missed the target from distance as Hearts sought to extend their lead. Meanwhile Aberdeen with good pace up front managed to get in a few crosses but failed to test Jack Hamilton in the Hearts goal.

Dale Carrick missed a good chance to double Hearts lead after 39 minutes when he mistimed his header from close in and the danger cleared.

Half time came with Hearts fully meriting their advantage.

Aberdeen started the second half in a much more determined fashion and were quickly rewarded. Jamie Masson beat his man on the right and crossed for Cameron Smith to volley home from close range five minutes into the second half.

The goal gave Aberdeen the lift they were looking for and the game then raged from end to end with a few solid challenges from both sides adding to the spectacle.

On the hour mark Hearts had a claim for a penalty turned down when the keeper appeared to impede Ryan Stewart, but it didn’t help the winger’s case that he went down in installments.

Darren Murray made a change after 71 minutes bringing Sam Nicholson on for the injured Ryan Stewart. Sam\’s presence gave Hearts the edge in the closing minutes as he showed that he was capable of beating the full back both on the inside and outside and made some telling crosses.

Aberdeen’s final chance of the match saw Jack Hamilton make a smart save from a free kick, diving to his left. The big keeper then failed to collect the resultant corner which necessitated a hasty clearance from the Hearts defence.

With Fraser Mullen , in particular, driving Hearts forward in search of a winner, the goal finally came with just three minutes left, although there was a little good fortune involved.. Fraser Mullen took possession 20 yards out and sought to create space for a shot, but his attempt was deflected into the path of Dale Carrick who showed good composure to hit the ball low past the keeper\’s right hand from 10 yards.

Callum Paterson had the chance to add a third goal in the final minute but was thwarted by another fine double save by the Dons keeper at his near post.

It was an entertaining game on a difficult surface that was a credit to both sides, but Hearts showed a little more quality in possession and created the better chances, thus fully deserved the narrow win that maintains their position at the top of the Clydesdale Bank U19 League table.

Best for Hearts were Callum Tapping (first half) and Fraser Mullen (second half), but my man of the match was Callum Paterson with his marauding runs up the flank which caused the Dons defence no end of problems.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Paterson Kane McKay McHattie

Stewart (Nicholson 65) Tobin Mullen Tapping B King

Carrick

Unused subs: Carswell, McGhee, Murdoch, Scott, A King, Oliver

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25-02-12 Hearts U19s 5-2 Inverness C.T. U19s

Hearts U19s hit back from an early deficit to cruise to a comfortable win over t bottom side Inverness C.T. at Riccarton this afternoon. It wasn’t their most fluent performance of the season, bar for a 20 minute spell in the first half when they scored 4 unanswered goals to put the game out of the reach of the visitors. A 4-2 half time lead was extended early in the 2nd half from the penalty spot as Hearts maintained top spot in the league.

Hearts were unchanged for this encounter against bottom of the table Inverness C.T., although David Smith took a place on the bench for the first time since his return from a loan spell with Raith Rovers.

Despite the gap between the sides in the table, it was the visiting side that first threatened. Jack Hamilton was forced to make a sharp save to his right when a free kick on the left was flicked towards goal by an attacker after five minutes. Things got a whole lot worse for Hearts after eight minutes. Thistle won a free kick 22 yards out from goal and Liam Polworth stepped up to curl a fine shot over the wall and into the top left corner of the goal.

Hearts immediately responded when Billy King got a strike at goal from a tight angle but the effort was cleared off the line. The equaliser was only delayed until the 10th minute. Ryan Stewart got the better of the full back on the right flank and his cut back to the edge of the box was struck home by Chris Tobin off the base of the left hand post for his first goal of the season.

Hearts went ahead two minutes later following a good move where Fraser Mullen played a long crossfield pass into the path of Billy King and the winger’s shot was tipped round the post by the keeper for a corner. From the set piece, Fraser’s cross was only half cleared back to him and he dinked a second cross perfectly for Callum Paterson to head home from close in.

Hearts were now in full flow and went further ahead after 17 minutes, this time with an excellent passing move from back to front that culminated with Callum Tapping chipping the ball over a defender to leave Dale Carrick with only the keeper to beat. The young striker emulated the pass by chipping the ball over the advancing keeper for a fine goal.

Hearts fourth goal came after 29 minutes and Ryan Stewart was again the architect, this time his cut back found Callum Tapping eight yards out and he made no mistake.

Thereafter is seemed that the Hearts side thought that their work was done, taking their foot of the gas. Jack Hamilton was forced into another fine diving stop to an angled drive after 35 minutes, then Jack became the villain as the visitors got a lifeline three minutes later. Jack called for the ball as he came off his line to collect a free kick played into the area from wide on the Thistle right. However, he didn’t get near it as the ball eluded a static home defence and ended up in the net.

Hearts half time lead was deserved if only for the 20 minute purple patch after ICT had taken the lead.

Hearts started brightly in the second period with Kevin McHattie going close with one effort on goal. Hearts restored their three goal advantage after 52 minutes, when Dale Carrick was pushed to the ground as he shielded the ball in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Billy King stepped up to slam the penalty low into the corner of the net.

The remainder of the game was very much a non event as it became somewhat disjointed, not helped by an over fussy referee. Chances were few and far between and shooting from both sides was wayward.

Darren Murray was happy enough with the result but would have been less hapy with some aspects of the overall performance. However, the win keeps Hearts noses ahead in the title race.

There were a few individual elements of skill shown by Ryan Stewart and Callum Tapping, but my man of the match for the most consistent performance was Fraser Mullen, who seems to be relishing his central midfield role.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Paterson Kane McKay McHattie

Stewart Tobin (Scott 86) Mullen Tapping B King(Nicholson 66)

Carrick (Smith 61)

Unused subs: Carswell, McGhee, Thomson, Oliver

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03-02-12 St Mirren U19s 0-2 Hearts U19s

Hearts U19s continued their winning run this afternoon with a well deserved 2-0 victory away to St Mirren at McKenna Park. After a goalless first half of few chances or excitement, Hearts upped the tempo in the 2nd period and were rewarded with a goal from Dale Carrick after the Saints keeper spilled a shot from Callum Paterson and a penalty from top scorer, Billy King, after Dale Carrick was tripped in the box. The win maintains the gap at the top of the table after Celtic’s win yesterday.

Darren Murray started with the same eleven for the third week in a row, while the St Mirren fielded a young side which is recognised for playing good football.

The opening to the game was relatively uneventful with both sides matching up in their shape. As the game progressed, Hearts took control of an increasing amount of possession and enjoyed a territorial advantage.  However it took until the 21st minute before the first effort on target, a tame effort from Ryan Stewart that the Saints keeper gathered easily.  Hearts continued to push forward but their play appeared to lack any great urgency.

Further half chances were created with shots from Callum Tapping and Kevin McHattie at least forcing the keeper into action. The closest to the deadlock being broken came from a dangerous Billy King cross that was deflected by a defender just over his own crossbar.  Another Billy King effort was deflected past the post  and from the resultant corner Brad McKay might have done better with his header from Fraser Mullen’s set piece.

At the other end, Jack Hamilton was a virtual spectator, with the only alarm being a yes / no exchange with captain Chris Kane as the keeper advanced from his goal to collect a through ball.

Half time came with a 0-0 scoreline which reflected a rather uninspiring opening period.

Hearts came out in the second half with much more purpose and pace in their play. In the opening  minute of the half a cross from Kevin McHattie found Dale Carrick in space but his header was weak and easily saved by the keeper.  The opening goal that was threatened duly came after 50 minutes.  Callum Paterson fired in a powerful shot from wide on the right, but the keeper was unable to hold the ball and it broke to the lurking Dale Carrick who netted  from six yards for his fourth goal of the season.

Hearts continued to press forward, but St Mirren had reacted by pushing more players forward.  The game had become much more open and was a better spectacle as a result.  Hearts attacks were countered with quick breaks from the speedy St Mirren forwards, but the Hearts defence proved up to the task. Saints missed one decent chance to equalise with a header from a free kick after 58 minutes.

Hearts doubled their lead after 73 minutes when Dale Carrick was clipped as he drove in toward goal.  It was a clear penalty and there was little dissent from the Saints defence.  Billy King stepped up to take the penalty and emphatically drilled the ball into the corner of the net, with the keeper going the other way.

The second goal gave the Hearts side the cushion they were looking for and were able to see out time with the minimum of concern. Indeed Jack Hamilton didn’t have to make a save in the whole game.

The only negative came from the referee who booked three Hearts players, Tobin, Mullen and McKay for very soft challenges. In fact I don\’t I don\’t think that Chris Tobin has tackled anything more than a fish supper with malice in his whole career.  Fraser Mullen may also find himself suspended for one of the games in the run in. The one bad challenge came in the 89th minute when a St Mirren player was lucky not to see red for a bad challenge on Callum Paterson that saw the full back carried to the touchline and Hearts finished with 10 men having deployed all their substitutes. Fortunately Callum was able to put weight on his foot and limp back to the changing rooms after the game, so the injury may not be as bad as it looked initially.

The win keeps Hearts seven points ahead of Celtic in the Clydesdale Bank U19 League, although the Glasgow side have two games in hand.

Best for Hearts were Callum Tapping, Kevin McHattie and my MOTM, Callum Paterson.

Hearts line up

Hamilton

Paterson Kane  McKay McHattie

Stewart (Nicholson 64)  Tobin Mullen (Smith 67) Tapping B King

Carrick (Hopkirk 80)

Unused subs:  Carswell, McGhee, Scott, A King

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09-02-12 Scotland U15 Call Ups

Three of Hearts U15 starlets have been called up to the Scotland U15 squad for an international tournament in Italy.  The three are midfileders Aaron Scott, Sam Daniel and Jack Simpson.  The tournament will be held in Bruno de Marchi from 20th to 23rd March and also involves the hosts Italy, Russia and Switzerland.

The Tournament will serve as a warm-up for  the Sky Victory Shield later in the year.

Full Squad (in alphabetical order):

Steven Boyd – Celtic (St Ninians HS)

Jack Breslin – Celtic (St Ninians HS)

Owen Connelly – St Mirren (St Andrews HS)

Alistair Coote – Dundee United (St Johns HS)

Sam Daniel – Heart of Midlothian (Lasswade HS)

Jack Harrison – Hamilton Academical (Lesmahagow HS)

Adam Hodge – Kilmarnock (Kilwinning HS)

Michael Kelly – Aberdeen (St Josephs HS)

Greig Kiltie – Kilmarnock (Loudon HS)

Ciaran Lafferty – Celtic (St Ninians HS)

Robby McCrorie – Rangers (Carrick HS)

James McGowan – St Mirren (Gleniffer HS)

Sean McIntosh – Celtic (St Ninians HS)

Aidan Nesbitt – Celtic (St Ninians HS)

Romaynne Pennant – Brentford (TBC)

Dylan Pooler – Kilmarnock (Greenwood HS)

Craig Quinn – Hamilton Academical (Bearsden HS)

Aaron Scott – Heart of Midlothian (Boroughmuir HS)

Jack Simpson – Heart of Midlothian (Graeme HS)

Sean Stewart – Celtic (Spark of Genius HS)

Dylan Stevenson – Celtic (Garnock HS)

Sam Wardrop – Celtic (St Ninians HS)

Coaching staff:

Scott Booth

Ian Cathro

Dean Gorre

Tournament schedule

Thursday, 20 March 2012

Campo Sportivo Prata di Pordenone

14.30 hours – Russia v Switzerland

17.00 hours – Italy v Scotland

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Camp Sportivo di Sacile

18.00 hours – Scotland v Switzerland

20.30 hours – Italy v Russia

Friday, 23 March 2012

Centro Sportivo Cerit di Villanova

14.30 hours – Russia v Scotland

Stadio Comunale di Pordenone

14.30 hours – Switzerland v Italy

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10-03-12 St Johnstone U19s 3-1 Hearts U19s

Hearts title hopes took a severe jolt at Stirling University this afternoon as they went down to a hard working St Johnstone side who fully deserved their 3-1 win. Hearts contributed to their own downfall with defensive mistakes leading up Saints first two counters. Kevin McHattie then saw red for two yellows in as many minutes, just before Saints got their third. Callum Tapping scored a consolation for Hearts with three minutes left.

Hearts made one change to the starting lineup with David Smith replacing Ryan Stewart who started on the bench.

St Johnstone won the toss and chose to play with the wind behind them in the first half, which saw them take a territorial advantage in the early stages. However their early threat was limited to a few corners which were dealt with effectively by the Hearts defence. Hearts response was shots from distance by Smith, McHattie and Tapping, but nothing to trouble the keeper.

The Saints keeper almost gifted Hearts the opener after 12 minutes with a loose clearance that was picked up by Dale Carrick but the keeper made amend with a good block as the striker advanced on goal St Johnstone continued their impose their pressuring game on Hearts while the visitors looked more dangerous on the break.

Brad McKay missed a good chance as the Saints defence was caught out by a long throw from Callum Paterson, but the centre back’s left foot shot went over the top when he really should have done better. The St Johnstone keeper came to their rescue again after 28 minutes getting down well to a Fraser Mullen free kick from 28 yards that was curling just inside the post.

St Johnstone hit back after 38 minutes with a shot the was blazed over the bar from a good opening 15 yards out, then they went ahead on 42 minutes. Another corner on the right was played into the box and a mis-hit shot from 10 yards found its way past Hamilton in the Hearts goal. The keeper may have been unsighted but it was a weak shot and a poor goal to lose.

Hearts would have been disappointed with their first half performance going in a goal behind, but they had failed to overcome their opposition’s tactics of pressing the man in possession and picking up on second balls.

Darren Murray change his formation at the start of the second half with Fraser Mullen going to right back, pushing Callum Paterson forward on the right and Dave Smith moving infield.

Hearts advantage of playing with the wind in the failed to materialise as they continued to be caught in possession all too often, or forced passes that weren\’t on. St Johnstone had effectively shut down Hearts normal quick passing and creativity.

Saints almost doubled their lead on 52 minutes when Jack Hamilton block the initial effort and a follow-up header was cleared off the line by Fraser Mullen. However it wasn\’t really a surprise when Saints went two up after 65 minutes, when Chris Kane failed to control a bouncing ball and the Saints striker calmly slotted the loose ball past Hamilton. Hearts reacted by pushing Brad McKay up front with Callum Paterson reverting to central defence, but it did little to aid the flow of the game which had become very scrappy with little creative football.

Hearts were showing signs of frustration and things got a whole lot worse for them when Kevin McHattie was first booked for a challenge from behind, which looked a bit harsh as he had taken the ball cleanly. However he had no complaints two minutes later when he held back a Saints player as they broke forward and was shown a second yellow and a red card after 81 minutes.

Saints put the result beyond Hearts just two minutes later when a cross come shot from the left was slid into the net at the back post.

Callum Tapping scored a consolation with three minutes left with nicely flighted shot from 25 yards that found the top corner, however it was too little too late.

It was an enormously disappointing performance from Hearts who, regardless of the defensive errors, were unable to impose their will on a St Johnstone side that had come into the match with some mixed performances of late. For St Johnstone, it wasn’t pretty football but it was a highly effective team performance. As many coaches of the past and present have pointed out, “hard work can beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard”.

Best for Hearts was Callum Tapping who was involved in most of Hearts better moments during the game.

The defeat puts Celtic back in control of their own destiny in the league race if they can win their games in hand.

Hearts Line up

Hamilton

Paterson Kane McKay McHattie

Smith Tobin Mullen Tapping King (Nicholson)

Carrick (Stewart)

Unused Subs: Carswell, McGhee, Murdoch, Scott A King

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17-03-12 Dunfermline Athletic U19s 1-0 Hearts U19s

Hearts suffered a second successive defeat in a week at Stirling University this afternoon when they lost by a solitary goal to Dunfermline Athletic.

Darren Murray made several changes from their defeat against St Johnstone, with both Fraser Mullen and Kevin McHattie suspended. The defence was reshaped further with Aaron Murdoch, making his long awaited return from a cruciate injury, joining Scotland U16 cap Jordan McGhee at centre back and Brad McKay dropping to the bench.

Dunfermline enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with Blair Henderson forcing Jack Hamilton into a save with a shot from 20 yards after 10 minutes. However, in Hearts their first real attack, Dave Smith hit the post from close range after a mighty goalmouth scramble.

Dunfermline opened the scoring on 15 minutes from a corner which was flicked on by Henderson at the near post for Kerr Young to head home unchallenged. Hearts were denied an equaliser after 27 minutes when Ryan Goodfellow in the Dunfermline goal made a fine save from a Ryan Stewart effort from 25 yards that was curling just inside the post..  Goodfellow continued to thwart Hearts as he made a good block on a Chris Tobin effort after the midfielder was set up by Billy King. As half time approached Hearts enjoyed a good spell of pressure without reward as Aaron Murdoch and Jordan McGhee both missing out with efforts at goal.

Dunfermline regained some ascendency in the second half and Fraser Moncrieff missed out on a few half chances before Ryan Goodfellow in the Pars goal made a terrific save from a Chris Kane free kick  which went through the wall but the keeper got across his goal to divert the ball away for a corner.  A skied clearance from Jack Hamilton then gave Moncrieff another chance at goal but he shot over the crossbar. Try as they might Hearts couldn’t get back on terms and Dunfermline held on for the win.

Darren Murray commented after the game “the boys gave everything but couldn’t make things happen in the final third”. The back to back defeats put a serious dent in the young Jambos title hopes, leaving Celtic just behind in 2nd place, but with games in hand.

Hearts Line up

Hamilton

Paterson Murdoch McGhee Stewart (Carrick 56)

B.King Kane Tobin (McKay 56) Tapping Nicholson

Smith (A.King 56)

Unused Subs: Carswell, Scott

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20-03-12 Hearts U19s 2-2 Motherwell U19s

Hearts continued their recent run of disappointing results as they conceded a late equaliser to Motherwell in today’s encounter at Riccarton.  The draw was Hearts first in 40 games at U19 level, going back to the start of the previous season. Hearts had twice gone in front through Kevin McHattie and a trialist, but were pegged back by a solo effort from Josh Watt and a late Keiran McGachie header.

Hearts were boosted by the return of Fraser Mullen and Kevin McHattie from suspension and Brad McKay returned to the centre of defence.

The visitors made the better start, forcing a couple of early corners and creating two reasonable chances from dangerous crosses into the box.

Hearts came close to opening the scoring on five minutes, Callum Tapping spooning an effort over the bar when clean through on goal. On 13 minutes Hearts did take the lead with a well worked free kick. Kevin McHattie ran over the ball and, instead of the expected shot, Fraser Mullen played a short pass to Sam Nicholson who in turn laid the ball off to Kevin who had continued his run into the box and the left back finished neatly with an angled left foot shot across the keeper and into the corner of the net.

McHattie came close to adding a second goal with a 20 yard shot that whistled past the post on 33 minutes in a first period of few clear cut chances.

Hearts were pinned into their own half as the visitors also began the second period strongly with the equalising goal coming on 52 minutes. Josh Watt made progress down the right then cut inside and with a twist and a turn made space for a low shot that beat Jack Hamilton by his left hand post for a fine solo goal.

Billy King replaced Callum Paterson on 61 minutes and Hearts re-shuffled side regained the upper hand.  A great surge down the right flank from Chris Tobin on 64 minutes and a pin point cross to the back post found Hearts “Trialist” who netted with a side foot shot  six yards. Hearts, now well on top, and playing some neat football came close to adding to their lead with a few close efforts including a powerful 25 yard shot from Fraser Mullen that just went the wrong side of the post.

The visitors\’ had the last word however with an equaliser two minutes from time, McGachie scoring with a close range header after the Hearts defence had failed to clear a free-kick.

Hearts will now look forward to restoring their confidence in their final league game of the season in a local derby away to Hibs at the end of the month.

Hearts Line up

Hamilton

Mullen Kane McKay McHattie

Paterson (B.King 61) Trialist (Stewart 76) Tobin Tapping Nicholson

A.King

Unused Subs: Carswell, Murdoch, McGhee, Scott, Thomson

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31-03-12 Hibernian U19s 2-0 Hearts U19s

Hearts U19 side completed their league programme with a disappointing 2-0 reverse to their local rivals at East Mains this morning. Hearts failed to take advantage of their first half possession as Hibs hit back in the second half with goals from Stanton and Caldwell.  The defeat means that Celtic are confirmed as the Clydesdale Bank U19 league winners for the third successive season, while Hearts finished second for the third time in four years.

Darren Murray shuffled his pack once more for the latest derby encounter.  The major surprises being that Hearts started with Brad McKay up front and David Smith playing the holding midfielder role.

The East Mains pitch was quite firm after the recent dry spell, but was still in good condition.  A cool Easterly breeze had the spectators wrapping up as if the game had been played a month earlier.

Hearts started with the breeze behind then and quickly established some ascendency.  Callum Paterson almost put Hearts ahead after six minutes when he latched onto a long ball but saw his shot from 18 yards come back off the right hand post with the keeper beaten. Callum had another great chance after 11 minutes when Brad McKay flicked on a header into his path but this time the keeper was able to make a stop with his legs.

Slowly but surely Hibs started to see more of the ball and went close on 25 minutes with a free kick from 25 yards that was deflected just past the post for a corner.  Hearts hit back and David Hopkirk wasted a good opening down the right with a poor final ball.  On the other flank Kevin McHattie played in a good cross that Callum Paterson could only glance just past the upright.

Hibs got their first shot on target after 37 minutes when Euan Smith tested Jack Hamilton low to his left, but the keeper got down well to save by his post.  A minute later David Hopkirk created a good opening for himself down the left, but his left foot shot was weak and dragged across the face of the goal.

Hearts had a claim for a penalty after 42 minutes when a Ryan Stewart shot appeared to be blocked by the hand of a defender, however the referee saw nothing wrong and lectured Aaron Murdoch for his protestations.

Hearts would have been disappointed by the half time score, having failed to convert any of the chances that came their way.

The second half started with Hibs enjoying a territorial advantage, but it was again Callum Paterson who came closest to breaking the deadlock after 50 minutes with a shot from 20 yards that clipped the outside of the post.

Sam Stanton missed a good chance for Hibs a minute later but his left foot shot was hit into the ground and bounce kindly into the keeper’s hands.  It was Stanton however who finally opened the scoring on the hour mark.  Chris Kane mis-controlled a ball on his chest and Ross Caldwell picked up the loose ball, made headway to the byeline and cut the ball back for Stanton to hook the ball into the net from six yards.

Hibs were now on top and Alex Harris almost doubled the lead after 66 minutes when he latched onto a flick-on at the near post, but his volley clipped the top of the crossbar.

Darren Murray rung the changes as he deployed Hearts final substitutes in the shape of the King brothers and reshuffled personnel as Smith went up front in place of McKay and Callum Paterson dropped back to right back and Fraser Mullen was deployed in midfield.

The changes seemed to help Hearts as they started to push Hibs back for the first time in the half.  Fraser Mullen went close with a free kick from 25 yards that shaved the right hand post with the keeper nowhere.

Jack Hamilton then made a good stop from a Verth shot from 10 yards after the defence failed to clear a corner from the right, before Hearts created a great chance with 11 minutes left.  A good passing movement down the right between Sam Nicholson, Adam King and Callum Paterson saw the latter cross low for the onrushing David Smith, but agonisingly the Hibs keeper made a great diving save to his right to divert  the ball past the post for a corner.

It was to prove a costly miss as Hibs went on to score a second goal in the 90th minute.  A quick break down the right saw the Hearts defence struggling to get back in postion. Jack Hamilton made a good stop from the initial stop but was unable to stop Ross Caldwell netting from the rebound.

It was an disappointing end to a season that had promised so much but ran out of steam in the last month. However Hearts should not be too disappointed as they had already guaranteed 2nd place in the league before today’s game.

Best for Hearts were Callum Paterson, David Hopkirk and my man of the match Kevin McHattie who put in a great shift despite appearing to be suffering from cramp in the later stages.

Hearts Line up

Hamilton

Mullen Kane Murdoch McHattie

Stewart (Nicholson) Tapping Smith  Hopkirk (A King) Paterson

McKay (B King)

Unused Subs: Carswell, McGhee, Scott , Carrick

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 07-04-12 HYDC Young Player of the Year Awards 2011/12

The annual HYDC Young Player  Awards dinner was held on Saturday 7th April 2012 in the Gorgie Suite.

Young Aussie star Ryan McGowan scooped the main award which was presented by the sponsors and Assistant Manager Sergio Cruz.  The U19 and U17 age group awards went to Fraser Mullen and Sam Nicholson respectively.

The George Nicholson Recognition award went to Darren Murray and a special achievement award was presented to HYDC Treasurer, Alex Jones, to mark his 20 years on the committee.

An excellent meal was provided by Saltire before the audience was well entertained, first by ten year old Edinburgh singer, Saskia with he Jambo version of “Don’t Stop Believing”, then we heard after dinner speeches from former Falkirk and St Johnstone Manager Alex Totten and former referee Willie Young had the audience laughing at his many stories from his time in the middle.  Scott Wilson as ever presented the proceedings in his own inimitable style.

An auction of a signed Spurs top, a Ryan McGowan “poppy” shirt, and a match-day mascot package all raised a good amount for HYDC funds, before a top price was raised when Ian Black auctioned off his infamous “I’ll Paint this Place Maroon” tee-shirt.

The event was a huge success and HYDC wish to pass on their thanks to all those who attended and helped in its preparation.

The Young Player of the Year event,  Overall and U19 Awards were sponsored by Henderson and Paterson, Painting & Decorating Contractors, while the U17 award was sponsored by Jambos Kickback.

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26-04-12 The Darren Murray Interview

Player Development Manager and U19 coach, Darren Murray, gave an interview to HYDC earlier this week, providing an end of season report on the U19s, his thoughts on releasing players and prospects for the start of the U20 league next season.  Eric Clelland asked the questions

The last time we spoke the U19s were sitting proudly at the top of the table with their fate in their own hands. Can you talk me through your thoughts on what happened over the last seven games.

If you look at the performances over the course of the season, I think that a dip was coming and it came at the wrong time. Obviously the last 4 games were a big disappointment for us, starting with the St. Johnstone game. We didn’t play well. They pressed us and we didn’t deal with that. Although in saying that, we did have two clear cut chances to go a goal ahead. I think when you are on a run-in like ours, to get the first goal in any game becomes really important, especially as our players play off confidence. I think that to get that first goal it would have made all the difference. We hadn’t been scoring a lot of goals this season anyway but we did kind of blow up a wee bit in the last four games.

I would have loved to have won the league, not just for myself, but for the players because we did deserve it. I’ve had this group of players for 3 or 4 years now. The players that have been so loyal and hard working and professional with me and I had to be exactly the same back to them, and it may have been to the detriment of the results. But so be it, I can actually look at myself in the mirror every day in my life and know I had done the best for every individual player.

We think we did the right thing putting Holt, Walker and Smith out on loan when we were sitting at the top of the league and they can talk about it all they want. No other club would have done it. We are always thinking about the development of young players. Sam Nicholson and Adam King came as did Jordan McGee. A lot of the younger ones were very, very, good and so in terms of development that’s what you want.

I still consider the season to have been an extremely successful one, but are there any lessons to be learned from what you and the team went through.

I think as a coach you always take things on board when things aren’t going well. It’s funny because always in defeat you look at things more than you do when you are winning. We were putting together such as a good run in terms of getting results and you are learning every day in this game. The day you stop learning is the day you are done. If I get in that position again there are definitely things that if that I would do slightly different.

At the HYDC Young Player of the Year awards night, neither you nor Chris Smith got a chance to say why the U17 and U19 awards went to Sam and Fraser. What were the qualities that they showed to win the awards?

I didn’t pick the under 17 award but I can understand why it went to Sam Nicholson. The good thing about Sam is he’s like a wee sponge. He wants to learn all the time and he’s such a level- headed kid. He works ever so hard and I think, technically, he’s probably up there as one of the best we have. If you marry all that together and we are looking at players who can take information in and then deliver it on the pitch I think he has to be up there with the best of them and I was delighted for the boy.

I just thought that Fraser has probably been just slightly better than everyone else. I think his range of passing and, especially the way that we play, his ability on the ball, his aggression and things like that. I like him in midfield, so we are going to give him a wee chance to develop his career there. Consistent is probably the right word to describe him. He’s been very, very, consistent.

We’ve now reached the time of year when you have the unenviable task of letting some of your squad know that they are being released, some of them having been with the club for several years. How do you feel on this occasion about those leaving the club?

Well you know it’s been the worse time in my footballing life if I am being honest. I’ve had a few meetings with players and nothing comes close to how disappointed and how upset and how emotional it was to be honest. It is probably the worse morning I have had in my footballing life and it’s just because they players have been through everything with me because my wife not being well and stuff every step of the way they have been with me. It’s not just about releasing players who have been with you a long time. These players getting released have been absolutely fantastic. I can trust them with everything I have. A coach will tell you you have to trust your players and the players have been fantastic, absolutely fantastic.

It was a horrible horrible day and it’s not something that I took lightly. It’s actually something I thought about for weeks. I was watching some of the last few games and my focus was not on the games it was on how I am going to tell them.

The day that we spoke to the players I sent all SPL clubs and Ross County names and dates of birth so we have had one or two enquiries and have trial games for one or two of them.

Despite a few being released, there are seven or eight “final year” U19s who have been kept on for at least another year. That sounds like a good return from this season’s squad.

It is a big return and I think they have merited that to be honest. With the introduction of the Under 20 league it’s giving them extra year to develop, but it’s certainly not to the detriment of the younger guys, because we have to look at Sam Nicholson and Jordan McGhee and the up and coming young ones.

What now for the U19s until the end of the season?

Obviously with the first team going to the cup final, which is great, we are obviously keeping going to May 19th. We have two days May 30th and 31st when we go down to Largs to do the A licence assessment for Donald Park so we will just keep them on a weights programme probably until then, with maybe do one or two training sessions a week, but get them in the gym most of the time.

You had a group of the U19s start taking their coaching badges this season. What was the thinking behind that initiative?

Well I think it’s quite funny because Jonny Stewart and Ryan McGowan came on that as well and they were two of my ex captains and they have been fantastic. Also the young players that are doing it just passed their level 2 coaching badge last week. The way that they deliver a session is great because they now know it’s difficult to put on a session, because you have to plan it, and deliver it. It is difficult, but I have been really enthused by what I have seen out there. They have taken what I am doing in training and trying to put it into practice themselves. I think all of these types of things, referee courses, coaching courses I think it brings them out their shells. They have to talk and communicate and I think it helps them on the pitch. It helps them see the big picture of everyone\’s role on the pitch and I think it’s a crucial part of their development.

Looking forward to next season, you have an extended role as “Player Development Manager”. What new challenges to you see for yourself as a result.

It’s always a challenge. This place is always going to be a challenge. The challenge is to try and produce players to play in the first team on a regular basis, not just having one or two games but having players who can go in there cement their place and then kick on from there and that’s the challenge.

On a more positive side of things we were probably going to go down the line of introducing younger players into the first team for next year. There are a lot in the first squad just now. I had the opportunity of going to see our first team beat Celtic at Hampden and there were seven players that came through our system in that team or in the squad, which shows that we are doing something right at the football club. That’s the game for any youth coach, but certainly for myself at this club, the primary aim is not to win leagues and trophies at youth level, it’s to get players into the first team

We have recently had confirmation that the U20 league is going ahead. How is the planning for that going ahead and what approach will Hearts be taking?

The planning is all up there on my board there. We’ve got a squad ready for it. We’ve got our dates to come back in. We’ve got our Monday nights planned, possibly playing at Newtongrange, so everything is down there. Our training week totally changes because it’s not a Saturday game. As it is a Monday game, you are looking at weekend training and stuff like that so the whole thing changes, your strength and conditioning programme changes, your days all change. People don’t like change, but if we are going to go with it lets get on with it.

What sort of squad numbers are we talking about.

We are going to have 16 at U20 level, but that’s not including Holt, Walker or Smith who we think will be with the first team squad.

We are going to try as much as we can to get the squad down. Both squads. In terms of U20s we are going to try and get it down, there’s no point in running with 20 players.

Possibly some of the U18s might go out on loan. All depending on the numbers in the first team squad what happens in the summer with them. If we have to then promote more U 20s to the first team squad that will have a knock on effect to what happens with the rest of the players. Next season there will be 22 players who can start games, 11 in the first team 11 in the U20s so you might need a total of 40, you don’t need 50.

There might be an occasion where Paulo says we have injured players coming back for the first team so we may put two overage players in. If it goes to four or five overage players, which I know a number of clubs want, we would be as well calling it a reserve league. Me personally? Play the young ones.

Can you tell me something about the new faces we will see next season.

There aren’t going to be many. Jordan McGhee will definitely be one we are looking to come in. Jordan is a very good defender, he’s a cultured defender. He uses the ball from the back very very well which we are trying to encourage. The wee boy, Angus Beith, is possibly staying at school for another year, but he’s another one that’s done very well,

I know next Monday’s not a great day, particularly if you are a Man City or a Man Utd supporter, but I would encourage all Hearts supporters, as many as possible, to get down to Easter Road and watch the U17 cup game for East of Scotland Shield. They have been a very good passing side this year and it shows we are trying to do exactly the same thing as the 19s, 17s 15s all the way down so we are hopeful that they can develop the game.

Are there any others we should look out for in the younger age groups? I’ve been very impressed with the progress made by the U15s this season.

Aaron Scott’s is a very technically gifted player. He is very much Jason Holt style where he very rarely gives the ball away but I tell you he is a good player. He uses the ball very very well and that’s the kind of player this football club wants to get, the technically gifted one who sees a pass, who is comfortable in possession.

I think you are right I watched the 15s once and they do actually pass the ball very well. We are trying to get that continuation of doing the same things all the way through. The good thing about the boys in the 15s 16s and 17s, is that they were all in training with us in the Easter holidays. I also had U17 coach Chris Smith an U15 coach Michael O’Neil, but I gave them the opportunity of working with the 19s and 17s. We grouped everyone together and they were doing passing drills side by side and doing exactly the same things. Not only that, but they were doing exactly the same things I do. The continuity of bringing players through a system where they all know and share the training drills is really important to the way we want to play, so that was really encouraging.

Thanks for your time Darren and all the best for next season.

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30-04-12 Hibernian U17s 2-2 Hearts U17s (5-4pens)

Hearts East of Scotland hoodoo struck again at Easter Road tonight as Chris Smith’s U17 side suffered the heartache of losing a penalty shootout after dominating a game which they twice led.  Hearts were left to rue numerous missed chances including two  efforts that hit the crossbar.

Chris Smith sprung a surprise by including U15 starlet, Aaron Scott in his starting lineup, which was a reward for some fine performances with the younger side and Scotland’s U15 squad.

Hearts started the brighter side with some neat passing and movement. Their first opportunity came after five minutes when Euan Saunderson made a good break from the back, but Gary Oliver was caught offside.  Hearts almost took the lead from their first corner after 15 minutes, but the keeper managed to fist away  Jordan McGhee’s powerful header.

Hibs first threat on the Hearts goal was well defended by Elliot Ford, winning the ball under pressure on the edge of the box and clearing the danger.   Adam King then saw his shot from 25 yards saved by the keeper.

Hearts got their reward for their pressure in 26 minutes when they were awarded a penalty after Sam Nicholson was fouled. The referee didn’t initially award the spot kick, but the Assistant Referee in front of the East Stand had no doubt that the penalty was merited. Captain Adam King stepped up and made an expert job of the penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way as he shot low into the left corner of the net.

Hearts dominance continued to the break, but they missed four good chances before then.  Jordan McGhee dragged his shot wide after a surging run and a neat one-two at the edge of the box. Sam Nicholson then dragged his shot wide of the target when well placed, with the keeper beaten.  Douglas Horne in the Hibs goal then produced the save of the match when he got a strong hand to Mark Keegan’s well struck free kick.  Just before the break and fine passing move down the left set up Adam King for a shot on goal but he blasted over the bar when a bit more composure may well have produced a goal.

The half ended with Hearts well in command, but perhaps ruing their profligacy in front of goal.

The second half started with Hibs pushing more men forward as they sought to get back on terms but it was Hearts again who went closest.  A training ground move from a corner set up Jordan McGhee for a shot from 25 yards but his effort hit the bar. Blair Carswell in the Hearts goal made his first save of the match after 50 minutes when he comfortably gathered a free kick from 25 yards.

Hibs forced their first corner after 60 minutes, but it saw them back level. The corner from the left was swung in close to goal and Robert McFarlane headed in at the back post.

Sam Nicholson missed a great opportunity after 64 minutes when he got on the end of a great cross from Gary Oliver, but is header from four yards out came crashing back of the crossbar.

Hearts did however restore their advantage just a minute later after a run down the left by Mark Keegan. The full back got to the bye line and his cross fell perfectly for Gary Oliver to strike a fierce volley into the net from eight yards.

Hibs came back in search of an equaliser and threatened in particular from crosses from set pieces.  They finally got on terms after 73 minutes when their best player, Jay Doyle, worked an opening for himself on the right side of the box and fired an angled shot low across the keeper and into the net.

Back came Hearts in search of a winner but they were left to rue further missed chances, when first Gary Oliver just failed to get a touch to an inviting Sam Nicholson cross that flashed across the face of goal.  Adam King then saw his shot from 25 yards just go wide of the post. Finally, deep into stoppage time, Sam Nicholson saw his shot from the edge of the area agonisingly go the wrong side of the post with the keeper well beaten.

Full-time 2-2 and the dreaded penalty shoot-out to follow.  There were nine perfectly struck penalties, but Angus Beith had the misfortune to put his effort over the bar, leaving Hearts deeply disappointed to lose a game they could and should have wrapped up in the 90 minutes.

There were many good individual performances across the team, so much so that it would be unfair to pick a man of the match.

The players should reflect on the fact that they played the better football, enjoyed the bulk of possession and territory and created by far the better chances.  It remains a learning and  development process for the youngsters and I’m sure that they will bounce back stronger for the experience.

Hearts line up

Carswell

Ford, Saunderson, McGhee(McMillan), Keegan

Graham (Williams), Scott(McDonald), Beith, King, Nicholson

Oliver

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12-05-12 Musselburgh Athletic  2-3 Hearts U19s

Hearts U19s signed off their season with a 3-2 victory in a friendly match away to East Region Superleague junior side, Musselburgh Athletic.  In an entertaining game, Hearts scored through Billy King with two goals, including one from the penalty spot, and an own goal. The game was good preparation for next season’s U20 League.

Hearts won a little more comfortably than the score suggests after monopolising possession, but Muselburgh always looked dangerous when they got forward.

In an entertaining opening spell both sides created good chances, first a long diagonal ball from McKay found Billy King on the left an he set up Callum Tapping with a good chance but his shot was blocked away for a corner. Mussy hit back and Jack Hamilton made a great double save to deny the home side. Back came Hearts and Billy King hit the post with a shot from the edge of the box. Mussy then scored off their next attack on 10 minutes. A corner on the left wasn\’t fully cleared and their #7 struck a fine sidefoot shot from all of 22 yards into the corner of the net to give Hamilton no chance.

Billy King then shot narrowly over after Dale Carrick created the chance after beating a man and getting to the bye line down the left. Two minutes later Mussy were unlucky with a header that came off the outside of the post. A well worked free kick move gave Hearts their next chance on 23 mins but Kevin McHattie\’s fierce shot went just over the bar. A minute later Hearts got on level terms after Jamie Walker rode a foul challenge, staying on his feet to play in Billy King who neatly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper as he went to ground. A few minutes later Billy King almost got a second after he was denied by the legs of the keeper after good lead up play again by Dale Carrick.

Hearts eventually went ahead after 37 minutes in bizarre fashion. Dale Carrick put pressure on a defender 25 yards out and the next moment the ball was in the net. By the lack of reaction from either side it had to be own goal, but the whole incident seemed to take everyone by surprise and the Musselburgh keeper in particular who didn\’t move.

Into the second half and Musselburgh equalised after 54 minutes with a well worked move on the right and an angled shot across the keeper found the far corner of the net. The next talking point was a flare-up between the two coaches as Dale Carrick was felled by the Mussy #4. It was a bad challenge, but the Mussy defender escaped a card as Brad McKay had escaped one in the first half for an equally deliberate, if not quite so violent, challenge. The game deteriorated somewhat after that as players became a bit tetchy with the ref.

The mood of the Mussy players didn\’t improve after Hearts were awarded a penalty after 60 minutes. The referee initially gave a free kick outside the box as Dale Carrick was brought down by the full back as he went round him close to the bye line, but the assistant ref judged that the foul was inside the box and a penalty was awarded. The Mussy players really had no complaint. It was a clear foul and the challenge was about a yard inside the box. Billy King made an expert job of the spot kick, knocking the ball high to the left as the keeper went low to the right.

The game petered out after that with Hearts enjoying most of the possession but lacking a goal threat. However, there were two good chances late in the game, one for each side, as first Dale Carrick shot narrowly wide after being set up by Fraser Mullen on a quick break, then in the last minute Brad McKay cleared a shot off the line that the Mussy #7 should have buried with Jack Hamilton out of position.

All in all a good workout for the Hearts side as they continue their preparation as an U20 side for next season. There were a few good performances, but I thought that Dale Carrick played as well as I have seen him for the U19s.

Hearts team

Hamilton

Paterson McKay McGhee McHattie

Walker Mullen Tapping Scott B.King

Carrick

Subs: A King Nicholson, Wyllie, Carse

Not used: Carswell

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18-05-12 SFA Modern Apprenticeships

Four of Hearts U19 squad were presented with their Level 3 SVQ certificates in “Excellence in Sport” earlier  today, by Trish Keppie of the SFA. The award is a recognition of the lads individual achievements and is part of a wider programme of education undertaken by the club to prepare trainee professionals for a career both inside and outside of football. More information on the programme is available from the SFA Website. The four were Chris Kane, Chris Tobin, Ryan Stewart and Aaron Murdoch. Further presentations will take place before the start of next season.

 

Trish Keppie helps the SFA with a national player education and development programme which prepares young players for a career within football and assists them with challenges ouside football if they don’t make it as professional players.  It is a commitment that Hearts are familiar with as they seek to prepare players with life skills as well as football skills.  All full-time ground staff have the opportunity to attend college one day a week, to enable them to develoop new skills and obtain qualifications.

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01-06-12 Parting of the ways with thanks

Hearts marked the departure of three of their youth players today with a special presentation of an inscribed silver bowl and a Hearts top to Chris Tobin, Aaron Murdoch and Ryan Stewart in recognition of their contribution to the success of Academy teams over a period of several years.  John Murray and Darren Murray handed over the gifts in the presence of the rest of the U20 squad.

Chris Kane was unavailable and will receive his presentation at a later date.

HYDC would like to wish the four all the best for their future careers.

Darren Murray said “I’m hopeful that all of them will get fixed up with clubs. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to go forward. As a coach you hope never to be proved wrong, but I’d love for these guys to go and play in the SPL one day.”

“That’s the aim for them, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  If you get a knock back then take that step back then propel yourself forward and hopefully go on to have a good career in football”

“Today we’ve given them just a little momento, they’ll get a signed strip and a trophy with their years of service”

“Between the four of them it’s a combined service of almost 30 years, when you’ve had guys like that at the club then it’s important that you recognise them”

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