ST MIRREN booked their place in the third round of the Irn-Bru Cup with a routine 3-1 win over Hearts Colts at the Paisley 2021 Stadium on Saturday.

A Gavin Reilly double and a John Sutton header sealed Saints place in the next round where they will face Raith Rovers.

The Buddies struggled to hit the heights they reached in the 3-0 win over Dundee United the previous week, but it was more than enough to breeze past the Hearts under-20s side.

There was starts for young winger Conor O’Keefe, goalkeeper Ross Stewart and Dale Hilson who returned from injury.

The match started with the feel of a pre-season friendly, with only one of the stands at the Paisley 2021 Stadium open and the atmosphere at a distinctly lower ebb than when United visited.

But it didn’t take long for St Mirren to be shaken from a relative slumber. After eight minutes Reilly received the ball 20 yards from goal after Saints had moved the ball quickly through the pitch with a lovely passing move.

He shifted the ball onto his left side and curled a shot into the top corner leaving Kelby Mason in the Hearts goal no chance.

The Buddies went close again in the 15th minute when Hilson intercepted a slack pass from Hearts captain Angus Beith and threaded a pass into the path of O’Keefe, but the young winger couldn’t get enough purchase on his shot and it was easily dealt with by Mason.

Saints goalkeeper Ross Stewart was called into action for the first time in the 28th minute. Beith tried his luck from 20 yards and the ball looked like it would dip under the crossbar, but Stewart made a good one-handed save to tip it over.

Then Saints passed up a glorious opportunity to double the lead. Hilson worked space well on the left before getting a shot away which Mason spilled at the feet of Reilly, with the goal at his mercy he blazed it high over the bar and put in an early contender for miss of the season.

Reilly’s afternoon had taken a turn for the worse since opening the scoring, he was then denied what appeared to be a fair claim for a penalty when he tumbled under a challenge from Chris Hamilton.

But two minutes into the second half Reilly’s roller coaster afternoon hit another peak. Stephen McGinn picked the striker out with an incisive pass and Reilly took one touch then hit a left footed shot into the corner.

With 10 minutes to go the young side got themselves a lifeline. Substitute Aidan Kenna found himself in space in the box only to have his shot blocked by Jack Baird and out for a corner.

The Buddies failed to deal with the set piece with Kenna putting the ball back into the danger area. It came off the leg of Baird and landed in the path of Rory Currie who slid in to convert.

But just a few minutes later Saints wrapped things up. Reilly showed good feet to get away from his man and dinked a cross into the six yard box for Sutton who had the easiest of tasks to head home from close range.

St Mirren: Stewart, Stelios, Buchanan, Baird, Eckersley, Hilson (Stewart, 54), McShane (Sutton, 70), McGinn, Smith, O’Keefe (Kirkpatrick, 60), Reilly.

Subs not used: Samson, Duffy, Whyte, Erhahon.

Attendance: 1, 130.