Hearts played out their final pre-season friendly before the 2017/18 campaign gets underway, as Newcastle United were the visitors in front of a new-look Tynecastle.
Jamie Walker’s equaliser sandwiched two goals from Dwight Gayle in the first half, while Isma Goncalves also missed a penalty after Walker had been felled.
Ian Cathro made three changes from the side that defeated Linfield in last weekend’s encounter in Belfast, with Kyle Lafferty, Rafa Grzelak and Harry Cochrane dropping out.
They were replaced by Ashley Smith-Brown, Prince Buaben and Cole Stockton, as the head coach sought to keep things fresh ahead of the beginning of the Betfred Cup campaign on Tuesday away to Elgin City.
The Magpies named a line-up including England international Jonjo Shelvey, Dutch star Siem De Jong and new £7m signing from Chelsea, Christian Atsu. On the bench for the visitors were stars including Scotland defender Grant Hanley and Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
The Geordies were on the front foot almost immediately, as Rolando Aarons cut in from the left wing and fired a shot off the frame of Jack Hamilton’s goal, before Smith-Brown cleared the danger.
The Jambos didn’t heed that warning, however, and found themselves 1-0 down within 3 minutes as Dwight Gayle was sent through on goal from de Jong’s pass, and he fired coolly past Hamilton.
Aarons then came close again, as Shelvey’s quick free-kick sent Gayle racing away, before the striker cut the ball back to Aarons but his shot shaved Hamilton’s left-hand post.
Hearts had their first effort of the game in 13 minutes, as Isma let fly from distance. His effort was goal bound, and only a fine finger-tip save from Rob Elliot in goals kept the scores level.
However, they had an even better chance to level the scores shortly after. Jamie Walker broke into the Newcastle box and was tripped at the byline, but Isma’s penalty flew over the bar.
One minute later, though, Isma made amends. His pass into Cole Stockton was laid off to Walker, who rammed the ball home from close range to score an equaliser.
Hamilton then made a fine stop from a close-range header by de Jong as Newcastle went back on the attack, the Dutchman meeting Shelvey’s corner.
The Toon were threatening from corners, and they took advantage of their physical superiority from the next set-piece. Shelvey’s corner from the left found Gayle who nodded it into an empty net to restore their lead.
Aarons then hit the woodwork for a second time, as he teased Krystian Nowak before launching an audacious chip from outside the box.
Hearts then hit the woodwork, as Isma turned from Smith-Brown’s throw-in and hit a half-volley from outside the box that bounced off Elliot’s left-hand post with the keeper helpless.
Walker was next to threaten, as Smith’s cross was volleyed at Elliot who produced a top save, before outdoing himself a moment later as he made a sensational stop to keep out Isma’s header from 6 yards.
The visitors made six changes at the break, with Gamez, Dummett, Lejeune, Saivet, Perez and Mitrovic coming on. Among those subbed off were Shelvey, Aarons and double-scorer Gayle.
Newcastle almost extended their lead, when Perez broke down the right and fired a ball across goal that Hamilton spilled, but the keeper caught it before it bobbled over the line.
The flow and tempo of the game was a bit stop-start as the hour mark approached, with a raft of changes well into the double figures from both sides, as Cathro introduced Malaury Martin and Rafa Grzelak to proceedings.
There were no further chances by the end of the match, but it was an encouraging display from Hearts as they prepare to start their season properly on Tuesday night at Borough Briggs.
Hearts: Hamilton, M.Smith, Smith-Brown, Nowak, Hughes, Berra, Walker, Buaben, Lafferty, Cowie, Isma. Subs: Noring, Stockton, Sammon, Martin, Currie, Grzelak, McGhee, Brandon, Beith, Petkov, Cochrane.
Newcastle: Elliot, Clark, Lascelles, Shelvey, Gayle, Diame, De Jong, Aarons, Mbemba, Haidara, Atsu. Subs: Woodman, Dummett, Colback, Hanley, Lazaar, Perez, Lejeune, Saivet, Gamez, Armstrong, Mitrovic.
Referee: Willie Collum