Robbie Neilson will file this one under ‘professional’ as Hearts eased into the Scottish Cup quarter-final with victory at Hamilton Accies.

Goals from in-form Stephen Humphrys and second-half sub Cammy Devlin kept the prospect of an Accies upset well at bay as the Tynecastle men returned to the capital largely untroubled.

A record away crowd at Hamilton’s ZLX Stadium made this a less hostile evening than it might’ve been against their relegation-battling Championship opponents, who were unable to turn this into the struggle the travelling fans may have feared. But their team comfortably progressed, without suspended captain Lawrence Shankland, with a performance that was more than enough for a place in the hat for Monday’s draw.

Humphrys on form

He’s very much the man of the moment on Gorgie, and it’s little wonder why. The on-loan Wigan forward backed up last week’s goal of the season contender – or ender, according to his manager – with a well-taken goal to set Hearts on their way in Lanarkshire.

Neilson himself admitted he’s brought Humphrys in and out of his team, and the form of Shankland means he hasn’t been afforded as many opportunities as he probably deserves. He likely starts week in, week out for most other teams in the Premiership.

It’s not often top-flight teams out with Celtic and Rangers can call upon such a reliable goalscoring option as their second-choice striker, so Humphrys’ continued push for more minutes is a welcome one for Neilson. His decisive goal was the mark of a striker in confidence, peeling off his man in the box and drilling home left-footed into the far corner.

Accies give it a go

Friday night under the lights, TV cameras in town, and an Accies side on a high from reaching the SPFL Trust Trophy final earlier this week; Hearts would’ve pitched up in Hamilton aware of the prospect for an awkward evening.

But Rankin’s side, outmatched technically, weren’t quite able to do enough to throw the Gorgie men off their stride.. Accies sat deep from the outset and challenged their visitors to play through them, which the odds dictated they likely would in the end. It took until the latter stages of the first half for Hamilton to even advance the ball as far as Hearts’ 18-yard box. Their wary first-half approach was typified by Toby Sibbick being allowed to receive a goal-kick from Zander Clark in his own box and advance uncontested into midfield.

With his team having gone 120 minutes just a few days ago, his plan became clear: stay in it for 45 then have a go after the break, because Accies did let the handbrake off post-interval. Their best chance fell to Lucas de Bolle, who did well to turn Fergus Owens’ cross on target on the half volley. Opening up at 1-0 down carried obvious hazards, however, and the worst of all materialised when Devlin bundled home a sweeping Hearts move at the second attempt.

How far can Hearts go?

Establishing Hearts as the Premiership’s third force at present has been a job well done at Tynecastle, but how Neilson must covet solidifying that status with silverware. Despite being handed a derby with Hibs and the archetypal banana skin tie with a Friday night away against an underdog, Hearts have made light work of their Scottish Cup tilt thus far.

At least two of their Premiership compatriots will have exited stage left by the time the last eight draw is made, and they can spend the rest of the weekend with their feet up, willing a few upsets into existence. Hearts’ squad, often disrupted by injuries in the opening half of the campaign, now looks robust enough to mount a serious attempt at a first Scottish Cup since 2012.

The 3727 who followed them all the way down the M8 last night certainly fancy they could go all the way again – and why not? Their team have made three of the last four finals without winning any, they’ll feel surely their turn is due.