Scottish League Cup - Group C
Cove RangersCove Rangers1HeartsHeart of Midlothian2

Cove Rangers 1-2 Heart of Midlothian

By Scott DavieBBC Scotland at Balmoral Stadium
Olly Lee scores for Heart of Midlothian
Debutant Olly Lee's low shot broke the deadlock for Hearts

Top-flight Hearts battled past Highland League champions Cove Rangers to win their first competitive match of the season in League Cup Group C.

Two of Craig Levein's 13 summer signings, Olly Lee and Steven MacLean, scored debut goals for the visitors.

Jake Mulraney too came close to opening his Hearts account, while Lee struck the post in search of a third goal.

Paul McManus pulled one back for Cove with 15 minutes remaining, but the hosts could not find an equaliser.

The Toonsers, for whom it was a first competitive game at their new Balmoor Stadium, have now lost both of their League Cup matches and sit bottom of the section.

Hearts climb to second place, behind Championship side Inverness Caledonian Thistle, who have taken maximum points from their two fixtures.

Steven MacLean scores for Heart of Midlothian against Cove Rangers
Experienced striker Steven MacLean scored Hearts' second goal

Seven of Levein's new additions started and it was particularly surprising to see MacLean, who has arrived from St Johnstone, feature.

Saints boss Tommy Wright never played the striker on synthetic surfaces because of his history of knee injuries, but the 35-year-old was selected in the away forward line on the new artificial pitch.

MacLean certainly seemed unconcerned by the surface. He had a goal disallowed for offside in the opening half before scoring after the break, but it was Lee who was first to break his Hearts duck.

The midfielder, whom Levein signed from Luton Town, swapped passes with Kyle Lafferty at the edge of the box before drilling the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net after just 11 minutes.

Heart of Midlothian's Olly Lee watches his shot hit the post
Lee struck the post as he sought to add to his first-half goal

It looked like that might spark a comfortable win for the Premiership side, who certainly played with pace and intensity, especially in the wide areas, where Mulraney and Callum Morrison caused persistent problems.

Cove were limited to the occasional counterattack, with Mitch Megginson twice blocked by John Souttar when in good positions.

The Hearts defender nearly scored at the other end on the stroke of half-time, his header hooked off the line by Darryn Kelly, rescuing the otherwise impressive Stuart McKenzie after the goalkeeper made a rare error.

Ryan Strachan made another goal-line clearance for the hosts seconds into the new half, denying Oliver Bozanic.

There was no stopping MacLean's effort, though, as he pounced to prod in Peter Haring's flick-on from inside the six-yard box after 57 minutes.

Paul McManus scores for Cove Rangers
Paul McManus scored to set up a nervy final 15 minutes for Craig Levein's Hearts

Lee could have doubled his tally when he rounded McKenzie, but he struck the upright with his shot.

The ending was more fraught than it should have been for Hearts after McManus tapped home from close-range.

Match reaction

Hearts captain Christophe Berra: "It was overall a comfortable game, they got a goal that was sloppy on our behalf, basic stuff.

"We had the majority of possession, some great chances, great movement around the box and combinations, and on another day there'd have been more goals.

"Seven new players, Cove have given Inverness a tough game, they're on the up and have some good players, but if we'd won 4-1 or 5-1, I don't think anyone could have said anything against it."

Line-ups

Cove Rangers

  • 1McKenzie
  • 2MilneSubstituted forRedfordat 76'minutes
  • 6Kelly
  • 4Strachan
  • 3MilneBooked at 73mins
  • 7Park
  • 5Yule
  • 8Scully
  • 11MassonSubstituted forSmithat 80'minutes
  • 10McManus
  • 9Megginson

Substitutes

  • 12Smith
  • 14Watson
  • 15Redford
  • 16Gray
  • 17Emmett
  • 21McCafferty

Hearts

  • 1Zlamal
  • 4Souttar
  • 5HaringBooked at 84mins
  • 6Berra
  • 38Morrison
  • 8LeeSubstituted forIrvingat 65'minutes
  • 31Burns
  • 7Bozanic
  • 23MulraneySubstituted forIkpeazuat 80'minutes
  • 9Lafferty
  • 18MacLeanSubstituted forSmithat 65'minutes

Substitutes

  • 2Smith
  • 16Hughes
  • 19Ikpeazu
  • 22Edwards
  • 30Silva
  • 35Keena
  • 40Irving
Referee:
Nick Walsh
Attendance:
1,728

Match Stats

Home TeamCove RangersAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home42%
Away58%
Shots
Home6
Away23
Shots on Target
Home2
Away9
Corners
Home3
Away9
Fouls
Home13
Away13

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Cove Rangers 1, Heart of Midlothian 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Cove Rangers 1, Heart of Midlothian 2.

  3. Post update

    Oliver Bozanic (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Mitch Megginson (Cove Rangers).

  5. Post update

    Attempt saved. Connor Scully (Cove Rangers) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

  6. Post update

    Bobby Burns (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Foul by Daniel Park (Cove Rangers).

  8. Booking

    Peter Haring (Heart of Midlothian) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  9. Post update

    Foul by Peter Haring (Heart of Midlothian).

  10. Post update

    Connor Scully (Cove Rangers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  11. Post update

    Callumn Morrison (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Blair Yule (Cove Rangers).

  13. Substitution

    Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Uche Ikpeazu replaces Jake Mulraney.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Cove Rangers. Jonny Smith replaces Jamie Masson.

  15. Post update

    Attempt saved. Bobby Burns (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  16. Post update

    Hand ball by Paul McManus (Cove Rangers).

  17. Post update

    Attempt missed. Andrew Irving (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Cove Rangers. Alan Redford replaces Cameron Milne.

  19. Goal!

    Goal! Cove Rangers 1, Heart of Midlothian 2. Paul McManus (Cove Rangers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Daniel Park.

  20. Post update

    Attempt missed. Kyle Lafferty (Heart of Midlothian) left footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left.

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ross County22003036
2Alloa11004223
3Arbroath201135-22
4Dundee Utd201112-11
5Elgin100102-20

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Montrose22002026
2Falkirk21012113
3St Johnstone10100002
4East Fife201101-11
5Forfar100102-20

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Inverness CT22007256
2Hearts11002113
3Cowdenbeath210145-13
4Raith Rovers100102-20
5Cove Rangers200214-30

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Brechin21102114
2Dundee11004043
3Dunfermline11003033
4Peterhead201103-32
5Stirling200216-50

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Partick Thistle22004136
2Stenhousemuir21014223
3Ayr11003123
4Morton200225-30
5Albion100104-40

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Annan Athletic22005056
2Livingston21102115
3Hamilton201101-11
4Airdrieonians100112-10
5Berwick100104-40

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Queen of Sth22008356
2Motherwell11005053
3Edinburgh City201116-52
4Clyde201114-31
5Stranraer100135-20

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Dumbarton21101015
2St Mirren20202204
3The Spartans20202202
4Kilmarnock10100001
5Queen's Park100101-10
View full Scottish League Cup tables

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