Hearts succumbed to a 3-1 pre-season friendly defeat away to Dunfermline this afternoon.
The Pars raced into a three-goal lead before the first-half was out, courtesy of an Andy Geggan brace and a Joe Cardle strike. Dario Zanatta netted a late penalty in response.
Robbie Neilson opted for a mixture of youth and experience for this pre-season friendly. Juwon Oshaniwa, John Souttar, Don Cowie, Sam Nicholson and Juanma were the established first-team names on the teamsheet, while Viktor Noring started his first game after signing a two-year deal.
Hearts started brightly, camping themselves inside the Dunfermline final third in the opening stages. Nikoay Todorov went close after four minutes, heading over from Cowie’s corner.
The home side responded immediately, with Cardle going on a mazy run before cutting inside and drilling low from 18-yards but straight at Noring.
The Jambos continued to dominate possession but it was the Pars who had the next chance. Lewis Martin burst free down the right to cross for low for Michael Moffat, who took a fantastic touch to sidestep his man before being denied by a Noring block.
From the resulting corner Oshaniwa cleared off the line from Nate Wedderburn, before the second corner found Geggan in space and the Pars man swung the ball into the back of the net from six-yards to open the scoring after 16 minutes.
Cowie was pulling the strings in the centre of the park and was denied the equaliser in the 23rd minute. Juanma did well to cut inside, away from his man, before middling to Cowie who let fly from 25-yards, only to be denied by a stunning flying save from David Hutton.
Despite this, the Pars doubled their lead two minutes later. Geggan gathered possession and tried his luck from outside the box, and with the help of a massive deflection off Souttar, Noring was wrongfooted and the ball sailed into the net despite the goalkeeper’s best efforts.
Dunfermline then broke away again to put the game to bed just after the half hour mark. Cardle was played through and despite the tight angle, he drilled low past Noring and into the opposite corner.
Moffat went close with a snapshot before the half was out, that had Noring scrambling, but the experienced striker dragged his effort inches wide of the target.
Hearts started the second half on the front foot, with substitute Robbie Muirhead threading through Juanma, who skipped away from his man but was denied at the near post by Hutton.
The game then descended into typical pre-season fare, with neither side really troubling the other’s goal.
Dunfermline’s Rhys McCabe was played through in the 71st minute but under heavy pressure from the Hearts defence, failed to hit the target from the edge of the six-yard box.
Marcus Godinho’s cross from the right, moments later, saw Dario Zanatta leap highest inside the Pars’ box, but he couldn’t steer the ball on target and glanced his header wide.
Hutton then denied Juanma’s header with another impressive diving save, as Hearts looked to try and claw a goal back.
It almost came after 74 minutes. Murihead’s looping cross sailed over the goalkeeper and was met by the Trialist, who could only head over the crossbar from a couple of yards out.
The chance to pull one back came with five minutes to go when Zanatta was hauled to the ground inside the box, and the Canadian dusted himself down to slam the ball beyond Hutton.
Another 90 minutes under the belt for Hearts, who head to Malta to face Birkirkara in the Europa League on Thursday.
Dunfermline: Hutton, Williamson, Martin, Ashcrof, Richards-Everton, Wedderburn, McCabe, Geggan (Spence, 83'), Moffat (McMullan, 76'), Reilly, Cardle. Subs: Gill, Talbot, Spark, Hopkirk, Thomas, Smith.
Hearts: Noring, Godinho (Brandon, 85'), Trialist, Souttar, Oshaniwa, Nicholson, Cowie, Buchanan (Vladislav, 60'), Zanatta, Todorov (Muirhead, 46'), Juanma (Reid, 77'). Subs: Gallacher.
Referee: Steven McLean