Two goal David Hopkirk made a great return to action following his recent injury problems in the SPFL Development League game at Kelty Hearts' New Central Park this evening. Playing up front alongside Ciaran Lafferty, Hopkirk was the game's stand-out player and will have impressed watching boss Allan Johnston ahead of the first team's game at Ayr this Saturday.
The game was played in atrocious weather conditions that worsened as the evening went on. What started as showers soon turned into thrashing rain and high winds. Despite this, both teams attempted to play the ball on the ground, with Hearts employing a system that was effective mostly on the break, and the Pars having more possession.
Following Dunfermline's 4-0 Scottish Youth Cup win at Livingston on Sunday, coach John Potter made 4 changes to the starting line-up: Euan Spark, Brandon Luke, David Hopkirk and Nat Wedderburn (the latter pair being over-age players) replacing Stuart Morrison - who has upcoming Scotland Under 19 squad involvement - Paul Allan, Scott Lochhead and Callum Smith.
Hearts took the lead in the 12th minute when Rory Currie shot from just outside the box, giving Pars keeper Cammy Gill no chance. After both sides had attempts at goal, Dunfermline were given a chance to equalise after Robbie Crawford was fouled in the penalty box in the 33rd minute. Ciaran Lafferty became the latest Pars player to hit the target but force a save from the opposition keeper.
Less than a minute later, Hearts doubled their lead when Currie was in the right place to beat Gill with a well placed shot.
With the rain now falling and a high wind blowing across the pitch, Dunfermline pulled a goal back just before half time. David Hopkirk's pace took him away from the Hearts defence and he shot past Mason in the Hearts goal.
The second half was only 4 minutes old when Hearts regained a 2 goal lead. Nat Wedderburn and Evan Horne left the ball to each other and when neither took possession, Hearts broke upfield and it was Currie again who scored to complete his hat-trick.
Hopkirk was having a very good game, and it was he who scored his and the team's second goal. The penalty hoodoo was broken when he successfully converted from the spot in the 62nd minute.
Dunfermline should have equalised with 11 minutes remaining. Full-back Reece Duncan made a great run down the right wing and put in an excellent cross that Ciaran Lafferty failed to connect with, seemingly reluctant to use his left foot or to throw himself at the ball as it came to him.
Despite having most of the ball in the closing stages, the Pars couldn't find the goal that they deserved to get a point from the game.
Nat Wedderburn completed the 90 minutes, starting in defence and moving to midfield for the final 15 minutes. Hopkirk will surely be in Allan Johnston's plans for Saturday, as a good option from the bench at this stage and competing for a first team start in the near future.
Starting line up below, plus match photo gallery.
Subs used: Callum Smith, Josh Robertson and Paul Allan, replacing Robbie Crawford, Brandon Luke and David Hopkirk.
Photo gallery: All photos by Pars Review.