Forfar Athletic 1-2 Hearts (AET): Campbell speaks of pride in players

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Dick Campbell was brimming with pride after his players took Premiership leaders Hearts right to the brink in Tuesday night’s Scottish League Cup game.

Kevin McHattie put the Jambos ahead after Forfar Athletic’s resolve was eventually broken before Mikey Dunlop sent the game into extra-time with his late looped header.

Callum Paterson got the winning goal in extra-time injury-time as Danny Denholm and Kevin Nicoll both received red cards.

Dick said: “We’re very proud of the boys. I think any manager would be proud of their team after that.

“There’s no doubt Hearts deserved to win the game, they’re a very good quality outfit.

“Hearts looked great, they were quick and all the rest of it but they were helped by some major decisions. I’m not in any shape denying Hearts the right to win the game.

“From my own perspective, we’ve shown we’re a really good team with great players. We had to make three or four changes and we’ve got another couple of injuries now, and that’s two more sent off.

“All credit to Hearts and I wish them all the best in the next round. I’m very, very proud in my players.”

Campbell made four changes to the side that saw off Stenhousemuir 4-1 at the weekend as Dunlop, Michael Travis, Martyn Fotheringham and Chris Templeman replaced Lewis Allan, who dropped to the bench, and injured trio Mark Baxter, Tam O’Brien and Gavin Swankie.

Sean McKirdy had the first chance after five minutes, volleying just over the bar from outside the box after the Loons defence failed to properly clear an aerial ball in.

Billy King was next to test the backline and Rab Douglas got down well to deny his drilled effort from outside the box.

Fotheringham was Forfar’s first player to get a shot on target but his 35-yard free kick was easily caught by Jack Hamilton despite taking a nick off the wall.

Gary Oliver fired in a couple of tasty crosses but nobody was there to capitalise.

Sam Nicholson then flicked a header just wide from a Kevin McHattie cross.

Oliver sent a shot just over the bar in the best chance of the half.

The hosts defended resolutely for the first 45, mopping up what Hearts could throw at them.

The Jambos enjoyed plenty of possession but couldn’t break down the Loons and it was goalless at half time.

Kerr Hay was almost played in by Templeman just after the restart but a defender was able to hook it away.

Gavin Reilly and Billy King then saw great chances saved by Douglas.

Nicholson curled an effort just over the bar after a tidy move before Hearts won a penalty.

A ball inside struck Nicoll’s arm as the defender tried to return to his feet, and the ref gave the spot kick.

But the Jambos’ woes from the penalty spot continued as Douglas saved superbly from Reilly.

The deadlock was broken on 75 minutes though when McHattie got into the box and blasted the ball into the roof of the net.

Denholm crossed for sub Craig Smith but the youngster couldn’t convert from close range before Dunlop grabbed the leveller.

The centre half scored with a looping header from the edge of the box following a corner, the flight of the ball giving Hamilton no chance.

Denholm then spurned a tremendous chance for 2-1 before receiving his marching orders for a second yellow.

Extra-time then followed and again, Douglas was a match for whatever Hearts were able to get past the resolute Loons defence.

Three minutes into injury time - with just one minute signalled on the board - Patterson rifled a shot through the box and a deflection helped it past Douglas.

Nicholson and Gavin Malin had chances at either end in the second period of extra time before Nicoll was given a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Morrison.

It was a tremendous display by the hosts who were rightly aggrieved by many of the referee’s decisions.