Hearts earn Betfred Cup bonus point with hard-fought win over Raith on penalties

Hearts battled from behind to earn a Betfred Cup bonus point by defeating Raith on penalties on Saturday afternoon.

League One Rovers went ahead in the 51st minute through Kevin Nisbet before Michael Smith levelled for the lacklustre visitors with a stunning effort in the 78th.

And the Gorgie outfit emerged victorious 4-2 in the shoot-out, John Souttar scoring the decisive spot-kick.

Hearts made a promising start and registered the first shot on target after four minutes when Olly Lee’s low drive from from Kyle Lafferty’s lay-off was well held by Robbie Thomson.

The former Luton midfielder was again at the heart of the action in the 10th minute when his deflected effort inside a congested box just missed the target.

Northern Ireland striker Lafferty then saw a free-kick spin just past the post after glancing off the wall.

But the visitors’ frustration soon grew and a promising first-half performance petered out.

Rovers finished the opening period the stronger and should have opened the scoring in the 37th minute.

Left-back Euan Valentine found Jamie Watson unmarked at the back post but the defender headed wide with only Zdenek Zlamal to beat.

Raith then stunned their Premiership opponents by storming into the lead six minutes after the interval through Nisbet, the forward slotting home from close range after beating the offside trap to take in Grant Gillespie’s pass.

Hearts tried to respond immediately but tame shots from Oliver Bozanic, Aidan Keena and Jake Mulraney were all comfortably stopped by Thomson.

However, Smith brought Craig Levein’s side level in the 78th minute with a stunning 25-yard left-footed strike that flew into the top corner.

There was further drama as Hearts captain Christophe Berra had a goal disallowed in the 90th minute for a foul on Thomson, with television footage appearing to show the goalkeeper was impeded by team-mate Ross Matthews.

Kyle Benedictus and Matthews missed from the spot, leaving Souttar to seal the Group C bonus point for the Jambos.

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Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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