Match report: Hearts 2-1 Ross County30 July 2022
Second-half goals from Alan Forrest and Barrie McKay put the Jambos in the driving seat but a quick reply from Jordan White kept things tight right until the final whistle.
Stephen Kingsley was an injury absentee on the day as the Jambos started with a back three of Kye Rowles, Craig Halkett and Toby Sibbick.
A minute's silence was held prior to kick-off as the sell-out crowd honoured the late Drew Busby with a stunning tifo display which stretched the full length of the Wheatfield Stand.
Once the action got underway, it was clear the Staggies would be no pushovers as they matched the Jambos in all areas of the park. Lawrence Shankland got on the end of a Michael Smith pass on 8 minutes but curled his effort wide.
Seven minutes later and the visitors were on the front foot as Ben Purrington's effort deflected over the bar. The visitors were in the ascendancy by this point and hit the woodwork soon after via a deflected header. Minutes after, the lively Owura cut inside and curled an effort off the far post and wide.
The hosts were then forced into an early change as the injured Nathaniel Atkinson made way for Jorge Grant. The visitors continued to threaten, however, with Craig Gordon called upon on a couple of occasions to keep them at bay.
The Jambos then finished the half strongly, first with Rowles bulleting a header wide from a corner before some fine play in the box saw Michael Smith unable to connect.
Half-time: Hearts 0-0 Ross County
The boys in maroon started the second half with greater purpose as Forrest began to cause problems for the Highlanders. He weaved his way through their backline on 53 minutes only to see his effort deflect inches wide.
Within a few minutes, however, the ex-Livi man had opened his Hearts account. A fine passing move saw Cochrane released down the left; he drilled a ball across goal for Forrest to steer beyond the keeper.
With 13 minutes remaining, the 18,202 crowd were treated to a delightful goal as a long ball found McKay on the edge of the box. Sandwiched betwen two defenders; his first touch set him free before he calmly rounded the keeper to slot home Hearts' second.
Within a minute of the restart, however, the visitors had pulled one back as a ball over the top sent White through to slot the ball under Gordon.
The visitors pressed for a leveller but rarely troubled the Jambos rearguard as the boys in maroon looked solid whilst still threatening on the break at regular intervals.
Three points on the opening day it was as the Jambos now turn their attention to next weekend's Edinburgh Derby!
Hearts: Gordon, Rowles, Halkett, Sibbick, Atkinson (Grant 27), M.Smith, Haring, Cochrane, McKay (Halliday 78), Forrest (Devlin 78), Shankland (Boyce 71). Subs: Stewart, Neilson, C.Smith.
Ross County: Laidlaw, Randall (Johnson 81), Purrington, Baldwin, Iacovitti, Edwards-Owura (Olaigbe 64), Callachan, Samuel (White 76), Sims (Dhanda 64), Mayifuila, Tillson. Subs: Eastwood, Watson, Harmon, Paton, Loturi.