Plucky Peterhead went down 2-0 at home (and in front of fans) to Premiership Hearts 2-0 with a goal in each half seeing off the hosts.
Balmoor manager Jim McInally received a triple boost before kick-off in their Premier Sports Cup Group game with the Championship winners at Balmoor with Andy McDonald, Andrew McCarthy, Simon Ferry and Niah Payne all starting. The quartet looked set to miss out after picking up injuries in midweek however they declared themselves fit with striker Derek Lyle taking his place on the bench after a knock.
Russell McLean made his second time around debut with fellow summer recruit Brett Long on the bench with Dundee on-loan trio Danny Strachan, Josh Mulligan and Lyle Cameron all starting.
The Edinburgh side looked to get their noses in front early and on four minutes Harry Souttar sent a long-distance cross-field pass to Josh Ginnelly with his ball into the box fired wide by Liam Boyce.
A minute later Peterhead won the first corner of the afternoon and the dead ball reached Payne however his header flashed wide of the visitor’s goal.
Former Ross County, Dundee United, Celtic and Aberdeen winger Gary Mackay-Steven got in behind the Blue Toon defence on 13 minutes and took the ball away from goalkeeper Lenny Wilson. The wide-man shot from a tight angle with his effort landing on the top of the net.
Boyce went close in quick succession with 25 minutes gone and the Tynecastle club made their breakthrough on 31 minutes when Mackay-Steven found space on the left-hand side of the box and cracked a shot past Wilson.
Boyce was denied by Wilson before the break with the teams trooping off with Robbie Nielson’s side one goal to the good.
Peterhead looked to get level at the start of the second half and midfielder Andrew McCarthy fired for goal however his effort was blocked before it troubled Craig Gordon.
Hearts raced to the other end and Peter Haring sent a curling shot towards Wilson’s goal however the ball cleared the bar.
The Edinburgh side had two openings in quick succession however Aaron McNeff fired off target and Ginnelly failed to get enough power in his shot to trouble Wilson.
Peterhead almost made Hearts pay for those misses when confusion at the back created an opening for Russell McLean and his lofted effort beat Gordon however it also cleared the goal.
Hearts got the second goal they needed to take further control on 58 minutes when Boyce tapped in after being picked out by Michael Smith.
Just after the hour mark Mackay-Steven had an opening to grab his second and Hearts’ third goal however he fired wide.
Smith made another charging run into the Peterhead box before the end but his effort failed to trouble Wilson and the game was played out without any real danger at either end.
Peterhead – Wilson, Strachan (Jordon Brown 63), Mulligan (Cook 60), McDonald, Conroy, Ritchie, Ferry, McCarthy, Cameron, McLean, Payne (Lyle72)
Unused substitutes – Kesson, Long (G/K)