Hearts were defeated 2-0 by former player Lee Johnson’s Sunderland in a friendly at Tynecastle.
Aidan McGeady converted a penalty in the opening 15 minutes and added another for the English League One side before half-time. The rhythm of the game was disrupted in the second 45 with changes being made by both teams, Connor Smith hitting the post for Hearts in the closing stages.
How Sunderland opened the scoring was bizarre. Not for the nature of the goal, but for the people involved. Hearts goalkeeper Ross Stewart rushed out of his goal and brought down away striker Ross Stewart in the box. After that rare occurrence, McGeady dispatched coolly.
The winger had received a frosty reception from the Hearts supporters in attendance and was booked for a dive. But McGeady was on the scoresheet again before half-time, finishing off a counter-attack with a side-foot finish.
Hearts sandwiched this game between their Premier Sports Cup group stage matches, beating Peterhead and Cove Rangers in their opening games. Robbie Neilson’s side travel to Stirling Albion and then host Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the cup over the next week, but this was a step up in standard ahead of the cinch Premiership season.
Neilson made changes throughout the match as players like Loic Damour and Jordan Roberts were handed a chance to impress. Smith’s shot on the volley was sweet but not enough as it cracked the woodwork. Here are three things we learned.
Hearts weren’t too bad in the first half, the opening 45 minutes a competitive affair for a friendly. But McGeady proved the difference, scoring with the two opportunities he had. The result doesn’t matter in these type of games, the extra minutes into legs ahead of competitive matches taking precedence.
The young midfielder was praised for his performance in the victory over Cove Rangers midweek, and continued his form against Sunderland. Pollock moved the ball around well and put in a tackle when needed. He doesn’t look out of place as a senior Hearts player.
Well, you won’t see a more confusing penalty all season. Goalkeeper Stewart’s collision with his former St Mirren teammate was just bound to happen, wasn’t it? In fairness to both, Hearts’ goalkeeper made a couple of fine saves while Stewart was a useful outlet in attack for Sunderland.
NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.