Hearts opened their pre-season campaign with a narrow 1-0 loss to English Premier League side Sheffield United today.
John Fleck’s early opener was all that separated the two sides with the Jambos giving a good account of themselves in their first match for five months.
Hearts lined up in a 3-4-3 formation with Craig Halkett taking on the captain's armband.
The game started with a frenetic pace, perhaps unsurprisingly with the Blades coming to the end of their pre-season stint in Edinburgh, though Hearts did well to hold their own.
However, it was Sheffield United who opened the scoring after seven minutes. George Baldock got down to the right to swing a ball into the box for Billy Sharp to touch back for Fleck, and he slammed beyond Zdenek Zlamal from just inside the box, though the Czech keeper did get a hand to it.
At the other end, Olly Lee burst into the box to float a ball into the area, but Aaron Ramsdale was quick off his line to pluck the ball out of the air before Liam Boyce could get there.
Sheffield United passed up two good chances before the half was out. Oliver Norwood’s corner bounced across the face of goal and fell perfectly for John Egan, but he could only slice over the bar from close range.
Moments later Enda Stevens’ ball into the box was met by Sharp, only for the striker to volley over the target.
The Jambos fielded an entirely new team at half time, including new signing Elliott Frear.
A moment of fortune nearly handed the visitors a second. Chris Hamilton’s backpass saw Ross Stewart’s clearance ricochet off Sharp but thankfully the ball fell wide of the target.
Hearts’ best chance of the game came after the hour mark. A lovely passing move saw culminated in Craig Wighton slipping through 16-year-old Aidan Denholm, who held off his man at the edge of the box before firing low towards goal but a deflection took it narrowly wide.
The Jambos’ youngsters held their own against their vastly experienced Premier league counterparts, who then began to make changes of their own as the second half progressed.
Antoine Hackford and Lys Moussett both blasted over the bar from inside the box as the Blades saw out the game with the lion’s share of possession.
An excellent workout for Robbie Neilson’s side, who was delighted to be able to give 22 players a run out, including some of the club’s talented younger players.
Hearts first half: Zlamal, M. Smith, White, Halkett, Damour, Hickey, Walker, Lee, Moore, Boyce, Roberts.
Hearts second half: Stewart, Wighton, Garuccio, Brandon, Irving, Henderson, Hamilton, Frear (Trialist), McGill, C. Smith, Denholm.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham, Egan, J. Robinson, Baldock, Berge, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Sharp, C. Robinson. Subs: Foderingham, Gordon, Rodwell, Slater, Jagielka, Brunt, Mousset, Osborn, Bryan, Norrington Davies, Hackford.