Heart of Midlothian are in the hat for the Scottish Cup semi-final draw, joining Aberdeen, Celtic and Rangers, after defeating Greenock Morton 1-0 at Cappielow.

Steven Naismith's men left it late, netting through Kenneth Vargas. It was a goal the visitors deserved due to the number of chances they created.

Joel Sked looks back at the victory in Morton.

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One step closer

Hearts find their name in the last four of the draw. That was the aim coming into the match at Cappielow and that was what was achieved. The large traveling support of more than 3,400 had to suffer and endure, they had to be patient and they had to deal with missed chances but in the end, the winning goal arrived and it was deserved. 

No one will dwell on the performance or the struggles. All they will care about is they have a day out at Hampden Park to look forward to and are one step closer to a potential Scottish Cup triumph.

It was never going to be easy, it was never going to be pretty. The win was all that mattered and that's what they got. 

Morton frustrate Hearts

To say the first half lacked quality is an understatement. There were plenty of loose passes, wayward shots and second touches that were tackles. Granted, it wasn't an easy pitch to play on, bobbly and dry with areas resembling ground under repair on your local council course.

Dougie Imrie promised that Morton would try to make it as difficult and as uncomfortable for Hearts, using everything they can to do so. The main thing they did was switch to a 5-4-1 with Kirk Broadfoot returning to the starting XI in the middle of the defence. They made sure to show Hearts wide and were happy to deal with the crosses that came into the box, mainly from the right side where Dexter Lembikisa, Cammy Devlin and Kenneth Vargas were linking up. When there was a chance to exert pressure in midfield, Cameron Blues, Alan Power, Robbie Crawford and Grant Gillespie would do so. Power, especially, was displaying his experience and know-how in the middle of the park.

Where they fell down was in attack, an area the visitors dealt with quite easily. When they had a chance to get the ball in the box they did so, with Lewis Strapp throwing the ball in whenever he got a chance.

Hearts knew the first goal was vital. Get ahead and Morton weren't coming back. Go behind and it would be a very, very difficult task to break down a tough and tight 'Ton side backed by a partisan home crowd. Instead, the tension grew and grew as the game went on.

READ MORE: Steven Naismith Q&A: Key to Morton win, Rangers semi-final, Craig Gordon impact


In turn, Hearts struggled to control the match the way they like. The second half was tense and there were few spells where Steven Naismith's men had their foot on the ball, dictating play with Morton pinned back. Instead, they had to deal with periods where Morton upped the intensity and pressure after the break, putting the ball in the box, battling for second balls and winning second balls.

It was all too hectic. On more than a few occasions, in both halves, the Hearts boss expressed his frustration with his players at their use of the ball. Naismith was keen for his players to make use of the space and width of the park rather than playing into tight areas which would allow Morton to pinch the ball and counter. 

'Keep moving the ball' was a common shout, while he had to instruct Stephen Kingsley to tell Nathaniel Atkinson on the opposite side of the pitch to increase the tempo and get the ball across the pitch.

Morton have a threadbare squad and the more Hearts kept and used the ball the more the home side would tire with Imrie lacking options on the bench. A stoppage late in the second half saw the majority of the team come to the side of the pitch for a drink and breather. In the end, Hearts did get that control towards as they fashioned chances which eventually told in the end.

Gordon stakes his claim

Steve Clarke names his Scotland squad for the upcoming friendly doubleheader with the Netherlands and Northern Ireland. Craig Gordon should be included. The Scotland boss was in attendance as the 41-year-old got another solid performance under his belt. 

The aggressiveness he showed off the line early on to deal with a difficult inswinging cross was hugely encouraging. Later in the half, he dealt with a bouncing free-kick with minimal fuss.

Gordon came to the fore in the second half, producing a display that Hearts fans had been used to in the first two seasons after returning to Tynecastle Park. When the team were up against it he would produce big saves at key moments. Jack Baird thought he had headed Morton in front from a corner but was denied by a springing save. Gordon then showed his ability to stop shots with his feet, denying Lewis Strapp when he emerged with the ball in the box despite there being a pull of the shirt on Toby Sibbick.

READ MORE: Hearts drawn alongside Rangers in Scottish Cup semi-final after defeating Morton

Shankland and chances

Gordon wouldn't have been the only Hearts player, Clarke was taking an interest in. Shankland was hunting for his 28th goal of the season for the men in maroon and was the target of the Morton fans early on. Their chants were less than complimentary for a player who spent time at Cappielow on loan earlier in his career.

He had an early sighter which he guided over before directing a low cross from Dexter Lembikisa towards the corner but it was repelled by Ryan Mullen. The Hearts No.9 was well marshalled by the Morton defensive trio.

It was therefore up to others in the team to step up. Beni Baningime of all players had the best chance of the first hour when he steered a brilliant Stephen Kingsley cross over the bar. Kenneth Vargas poked a great chance over the bar and then Aidan Denholm was denied when one v one with Mullen.

It was left to a combination of Baningime, Shankland and Vargas to finally get the ball over the line. A brilliant direct run from Beni was followed by Shankland creating space for Vargas to fired a low effort into the net.