Heart of Midlothian 2-2 Hamilton Academical
Saturday 31st August 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts were held by Hamilton Accies today at Tynecastle after a 2-2 draw.
Sean Clare gave the Jambos the lead early on, but George Oakley levelled after the interval. Christophe Berra headed the hosts back in front before Oakley scored a second equaliser with 20 minutes remaining.
Craig Levein made three changes to the side that lost to Celtic last weekend. Joel Pereira missed out due to a thigh strain, Michael Smith was rested after suffering a hamstring complaint last week, while Euan Henderson replaced Loic Damour in an attacking switch.
Colin Doyle replaced Pereira in goals, while Aidan White took over in the back four at left-back with Aaron Hickey showing his versatility by switching to the right of defence.
There were also places on the bench for Steven Naismith, and in a first Tynecastle appearance for Ryotaro Meshino, after signing on loan from Manchester City during the week and arriving in Gorgie on Friday.
Hearts had their first opening at goal after 12 minutes. Jake Mulraney’s deep cross in was diverted for a corner, and from the resulting set-piece, Christophe Berra headed over from 12 yards when he perhaps should have done better.
They did have the ball in the net three minutes later, when a Glenn Whelan cross was headed across goal by Conor Washington, but Mulraney was offside when he headed the ball home.
On 20 minutes it did count. Craig Halkett carried the ball for an age from the centre of defence, strolling into the Hamilton half of the pitch and playing a brilliant slide-rule pass for Sean Clare who finished coolly from close range to open the scoring.
Accies almost responded immediately through Lewis Smith, with the winger cutting in past White and firing in a shot that took a deflection and a superb reaction stop from Doyle to prevent the equaliser.
Henderson had to be replaced soon after the half-hour following a collision where he took a knee to the back, and Tynecastle rose to welcome Meshino onto the park for a slightly-earlier-than-anticipated introduction.
Meshino showed glimpses of promise immediately, making space for himself and running in behind and had his first effort on goal but the ball went over from 25 yards.
Hamilton equalised with their first chance of the second half. A long ball found its way through to George Oakley, who held off Berra and managed to toe the ball past Doyle in goals to silence Tynecastle.
The Jambos went back on the front foot and only a super save from Owain Fon-Williams kept out a shot from Washington at the back post after a cross from Mulraney.
They came even closer soon afterwards. Meshino’s excellent cross was cleared to Irving who returned it to the back post for Clare, who played it over to Mulraney but the winger’s header went agonisingly wide.
The pressure eventually told on 57 minutes when, after Mulraney won a corner with some fine wing play, Berra headed home powerfully from the Irving set-piece.
There was a huge chance for another leveller for Accies, however. On the counter, Blair Alston was played through and his shot was well saved by Doyle but fell for Marios Ogkmpoe who somehow rattled the bar from close range. Ogkmpoe had another chance moments later when he met an Aaron McGowan cross, but his header somehow went wide.
Washington then came close again. A ball through for Meshino from Irving was cleared into the air but brought down brilliantly by the Northern Irish forward and he made space before cutting inside but he dragged his shot just wide.
Accies levelled again on 73 minutes when a long ball saw McGowan get the better of Sean Clare. He cut the ball back to Oakley who fired home low into the net past Doyle.
Steven Naismith was brought on for the last ten minutes of the match as Hearts sought a winning goal, but ultimately they were resisted by a stubborn Accies defence who continued to look a threat deep into the match, and the game ended all square.
Hearts: Doyle, White (Brandon, 65'), Berra, Clare, Washington, Mulraney, Whelan, Halkett, Irving (Naismith, 80'), Henderson (Meshino, 30'), Hickey. Subs: Zlamal, Ikpeazu, Damour, Dikamona.
Hamilton: Fon Williams, McGowan (MacKinnon, 78'), Fjortoft, Collar (Hughes, 82'), Oakley (Moyo, 74'), Alston, Gogic, Easton, Stubbs, Smith, Ogkmpoe. Subs: Southwood, Cunningham, Want, Mimnaugh.
Referee: Greg Aitken