Steven Naismith Relieved As Hearts Defeat Morton To Reach Scottish Cup Semi Final Against Rangers

Steven Naismith Relieved As Hearts Defeat Morton To Reach Scottish Cup Semi Final Against Rangers

By Callum McFadden at Cappielow

Greenock Morton 0-1 Hearts 

                                         Vargas, 86

Steven Naismith was relieved to see his Heart of Midlothian side defeat Greenock Morton, in a tight quarter final tie, to progress to the Scottish Cup semi final stage of the competition where they will face Rangers.

The first half at Cappielow was a cagey affair with little to separate both sides despite the difference in division between them.

Hearts came the closest on the half hour mark when SPFL Premiership top scorer Lawrence Shankland saw an effort parried wide by Ryan Mullen.

Morton started the second half on top and looked dangerous particularly from Lewis Strapp’s long throw-ins which peppered the Jambos penalty area.

One such long throw, fell to midfielder Cameron Blues at the edge of the Hearts penalty area but he blazed his effort over the bar.

Hearts had opportunities of their own and Beni Baningime header over the bar at close range from an inviting Stephen Kingsley cross.

Lewis Strapp then saw a shot saved by the feet of Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon within the box in the fifty-sixth minute.

Hearts frustration was showcased when captain Lawrence Shankland was booked just before the hour mark for a foul on Lewis Strapp.

The Jambos were under the cosh for a lengthy spell in the second half without being able to create a clear opportunity on the Morton goal.

That changed in the seventy-eighth minute when Lawrence Shankland laid a pass off to Kenneth Vargas inside the Morton penalty box, but he could only chip the ball over Ryan Mullen and on to the cross bar.

Aiden Denholm spurned another glorious chance moments later when he was one on one with Ryan Mullen only to fire the ball straight at the Morton goalkeeper.

Hearts finally got themselves into the lead after eighty-six minutes when Beni Baningime was able to break the lines in midfield to play in Lawrence Shankland who teed up Kenneth Vargas to fire past a hapless Ryan Mullen.

That goal was heartbreaking for Dougie Imrie and Morton who played very well, particularly in the second half, but gave relief to Steven Naismith and his side who progress to face Rangers in a semi final to be played in five weeks time at Hampden Park.

Steven Naismith (Hearts manager): “We were really professional as we knew it was going to be a battle from the start. We should have scored earlier but we knew it was about patience. We knew that if we kept working them, opportunities would come and that is how it played out.”

Dougie Imrie (Greenock Morton manager): “I stand here tonight, extremely proud of my players. We were up against a top team in Hearts tonight, pushed them all the way and if we had George Oakley tonight, I think it would have been a different outcome.”

WFi player of the match: Beni Baningime – his contribution was vital for the winning goal and his work ethic was impressive throughout the match as a whole.

Greenock Morton: Mullen, French, Baird, Broadfoot, O’Connor, Strapp, Power, Gillespie (Waters, 87) Blues, Crawford, Muirhead.

Substitutes: Murdoch, Waters, McGrattan, Garrity, Bearne.

Heart of Midlothian: Gordon, Lembikisa (Cochrane, 59), Sibbick, Rowles, Kingsley, Baningime, Devlin (Denholm, 78), Grant (Atkinson, 59), Vargas, Shankland, Forrest.

Substitutes: Clark, Atkinson, Cochrane, Denholm, Tait, Tagawa, Sandilands, McLuckie, Wilson.