Hearts were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Jamie Walker’s first-half penalty put the Jambos ahead, but were pegged back late on in the game by Killie’s Conrad Balatoni.
Robbie Neilson made only one change from the side that drew at Celtic Park last week; Prince Buaben came in to replace Miguel Pallardo.
A feisty opening 20 minutes saw little of goalmouth action, one flowing Jambos move aside. Walker danced away from three Killie players on the right touchline before slipping the ball inside the box to Juanma, who forced Jamie MacDonald to palm over the bar.
The boys in maroon passed up a golden chance to take the lead on 23 minutes. Osman Sow twisted away from Jamie Hamill and sent Sam Nicholson through on goal. The winger seemed to be one-on-one with MacDonald but with Hamill backtracking, elected to cut the ball back inside to Sow who was beaten to it by a Killie defender.
Nicholson was giving the visiting defence the runaround and again went close. He skipped away from his man on the byline before cutting in and blasting goalwards, only to see his effort deflected over the bar.
Kilmarnock nearly broke the deadlock after 35 minutes. Neil Alexander came rushing out his box to make a clearance, which only went as far as Greg Kiltie 25-yards out. The teenager took a touch before chipping an effort goalward, but when it looked like it was going to curl into the net, Blazej Augustyn saved the day with a clearance off the line.
Three minutes later Hearts were awarded a penalty, after Sow darted into the box only to be bundled over by Conrad Balatoni. Walker stepped up and slammed the ball into the top corner to give the Jambos the lead.
A brace of blocks inside the box stopped Killie from falling behind even further, as Juanma and then Nicholson saw efforts stopped by blue shirts.
Nicholson was flying by this point and the visiting defence simply couldn’t handle him. A sublime flick inside took him away from his man before he rifled an effort from 25-yards, only to be denied by a great flying save from MacDonald.
A scrappy second-half was broken up with Neil Alexander and Igor Rossi requiring medical attention, however both were fit to continue. It took until the 63rd minute for a real chance, and Killie’s Stuart Findlay headed clean over from McHattie’s cross despite being unmarked in the box.
Six minutes later Craig Slater fired a wonderful free-kick inches over the bar, though referee John Beaton awarded corner, claiming Alexander got a touch despite the ‘keeper’s protestations.
Hearts immediately went up the park, with Nicholson breaking away in the box and hitting a thunderbolt on target, only to again be denied by a stunning MacDonald save.
Sow was next up to waltz through the Killie defence, but he couldn’t keep on his feet as the ball was prodded behind for a corner. From that, Juanma managed to take the ball down, turn and shoot but it was straight at MacDonald.
With ten minutes remaining the visitors got back on level terms. A high ball into the Hearts box was cleared only as far as Balatoni, who drilled low from the edge of the box, beyond Alexander and into the back of the net.
A miserable second-half was compounded when substitute Gavin Reilly saw red after a tussle with Stevie Smith.
An anti-climatic end to a match that Hearts showed so much promise in, that killer second goal just proved to be too elusive.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Augustyn, Rossi, Oshaniwa, Buaben, Gomis, Nicholson, Walker (Reilly, 86'), Sow (Swanson, 73'), Juanma. Subs: Hamilton, McGhee, L.Smith, Djoum, Pallardo.
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, Hamill (Boyd, 70'), Findlay, Higginbotham (Smith, 83'), O'Hara, Obadeyi (McKenzie, 59'), Slater, McHattie, Kiltie, Balatoni, Magennis. Subs: Ridgers, Splane, Syme, Friszel.
Referee: John Beaton