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Anatoly Korobochka <-auth None auth-> John Underhill
1 of 002 Andrew Driver 39 ;Laryea Kingston 53 LC A
CIS CUP LATE-NIGHT ACTION... Morale-booster for crisis-hit Jambos Stirling Albion 0 Hearts 2
By Euan Mcarthur

HEARTS breathed a huge sigh of relief last night after seeing off stubborn Stirling to chalk up their first win of the season.

An own goal from defender Laurie Ellis late in the first half settled their nerves before man-of-the-match Laryea Kingston added a killer in 53 minutes.

Jambos assistant boss Steve Frail was delighted to see his side book their place in the third round.

Frail said: "A lot of people came here hoping they'd see us slip up after all that's happened recently.

"But the only people who went away happy were our fans and the guys in our dressing room.

"We showed good spirit and a desire to win the game which was pleasing and there was also a togetherness on the park which hasn't been in evidence since the start of the season."

Frail was also delighted with the contribution of midfield pair Kingston and Michael Stewart, who laid on the second goal with a superb pass to the Ghana international.

He said: "Some of the passages of play between Laryea and Michael were excellent but we need them to do that more often for us."

Hearts went for the jugular from the start and an Andrew Driver corner found Kingston whose 20-yards effort was cleared off the line by Andrew Graham.

Driver went close in the eighth minute after Calum Elliot did the donkey work wide on the right.

The hosts finally tested Steve Banks in the Jambos goal in 15 minutes but he comfortably held Chris Aitken's curling free-kick.

Elliot made contact with a Driver cross into the six-yard box but watched his effort take a deflection and go wide as Hearts kept piling on the pressure.

Kingston gradually began to stamp his authority on proceedings and he started the move which saw Driver feed Saulius Mikoliunas but there were no takers for his tempting cross.

Eight minutes before until half-time Mikoliunas caught sight of goal only to see his shot charged down by Stuart Devine but the pressure finally eased two minutes later.

Mikoliunas latched on to an Elliot flick to set up Driver whose shot was helped into the net by Ellis on the line.

Whatever Albion boss Allan Moore said to his players during the interval it seemed to do the trick as they came back out with all guns blazing. They had been so out of touch in the first-half they could only get better.

And in 48 minutes they came close to blowing the tie wide open when Paul Murphy connected with an Aitken freekick but it hit the side-netting.

To make matters worse Hearts raced up the field to double their advantage and effectively kill the clash as a contest.

Stewart weighted his through-pass to perfection to send Kingston in on goal and the midfielder kept his before calmly slotting the ball past Myles Hogarth.

It wasn't quite party-time for the SPL strugglers but knowing they were on course for the next round at least quelled the dissatisfaction in the stands.

The visitors even took the luxury of allowing Mikoliunas to make way for Andrius Ksanavicius midway through the half with the First Division outfit looking as though they had given up any hopes of mounting a comeback.

Albion made one final effort late on with Steven Bell forcing a fine save from Banks.

But Hearts held on to ease their woes with a morale-boosting win which they hope can kick-start their season.

Moore admitted Hearts deserved the victory. He said: "It was always back to the walls for us and it was a fair result.

"We didn't trouble them enough over the 90 minutes."

STIRLING ALBION: Hogarth, Nugent, Graham, Ellis, Devine (McKenna 64), Bell, Aitken, Murphy, Easton (Tomana 71), Cramb, Lilley (Hay 66). Subs not used: Christie, McBride.

HEARTS: Banks, Neilson, Tall, Berra, Goncalves, Zaliukas (Karipidis 78), Stewart, Kingston, Driver, Elliot (Velicka 81), Mikoliunas (Ksanavicius 64). Subs not used: Kurskis, Palazuelos.

Referee: J. Underhill.

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