GREGOR Lockhart was the star on show as Tynecastle 17s picked up three crucial points with a 4-1 victory over Hutchison Vale at Edinburgh Academy.
The victory has taken Tynecastle to the summit of Division 1 with Spartans, North Merchiston and Hutchie Vale all still in contention for league honours this season.
Midfield maestro Lockhart was the thorn in the Hutchie side as he netted a hat-trick in what was a commanding display from the teenager.
“I was happy with my performance.” Lockhart said. “I thought we were focused for most of the game and played really well. We just need to keep winning our own games and let the others drop points along the way.”
It only took a matter of minutes for Lockhart to make his mark. Euan Lannon’s corner from the left was met perfectly by the No.6 as he rose above his opponent to guide a header into the top left hand corner of the net.
Lockhart was celebrating with his team-mates for a second time only minutes later when his deflected effort from 20 yards looped over a stranded Daniel Kerr, who was six yards off his line.
Hutchie, meanwhile, were slack in every department and struggled to contain a confident-looking Tynecastle outfit who were determined to add to their early goal tally.
Connor Brydon was using his physical presence to his advantage as he skipped past his marker down the left side before delivering a sumptuous cross to the back post where Sean Williamson was inches away from getting a crucial touch to finish off the move.
Hutchie created their first clear opportunity of the opening half shortly before the interval when Jordan Combe neatly turned his marker on the edge of the Tynecastle penalty box and his rasping strike had to be tipped over by the alert Cameron Tulloch.
Hutchie returned to the field of play with a bit more urgency and Shaun Stevens’ dipping volley was close to finding the top right corner as the ball sailed just wide.
However, Stevens did find himself on the scoresheet ten minutes after half-time when the Tynecastle rearguard failed to deal with Kerr’s long clearance, and Stevens, who had cleverly evaded the offside trap, collected the ball before applying a cool finish into the bottom left corner.
Tynecastle responded minutes later and it was once again Lockhart who hit a thunderous strike into the bottom right of the goal from 18 yards after terrific play from defender Bradd Campsie. Three-one down and it was now or never for Hutchie who threw caution to the wind as they tried to haul themselves back into contention. The home side almost grabbed a second when a corner from the right was cleared to the edge of the box where Brandon Cameron caught a sweet right-footed volley that went just wide.
Nevertheless, the efforts of a much-improved Hutchie side were in vain as Tynecastle substitute Azad Okan jinked his way past two defenders before placing his shot beyond Kerr to seal a well-deserved victory.
Liam McNeill should have made it five with two minutes remaining, but headed wide of the target from only a couple of yards.
Hutchison Vale: Daniel Kerr, Aaron Flynn, Ross Anderson, Calum Livingston, James Roger-Jones, Dean Robertson, Shaun Stevens, Dylan Moore, Jordan Combe, Liam Robert Henderson, Devin Keith John Burnside, Adam Murray, Sean Alexander Elliot, Brandon Cameron, Kacper Spychalski.
Tynecastle: Cameron Tulloch, James Redpath, Ryan Travis, Scott Siegel, Gregor Lockhart, Connor Brydon, Euan Lannon, Sean Williamson, Danny Baron, Gavin Stevenson, Bradd Campsie, Darren McCowat, Azad Okan, Blair Rutherford, Liam McNeill, Clayton Crowther.