Hearts left Palmerston Park with a point this evening after drawing 1-1 with Queen of the South.
It was a tale of two penalties, with Ayo Obileye converting in the first half while Liam Boyce slotted from the spot late on.
Robbie Neilson made one change from the side that beat Ayr United last Friday. Gervane Kastaneer made his full debut, replacing the injured Armand Gnanduillet.
Hearts threatened from the off, camping out in the home side’s half, and got a first sniff at goal seven minutes in. Working their way down the right, Michael Smith crossed into the box for Gary Mackay-Steven to connect but he could only steer his header over the bar.
Mackay-Steven was involved again on the half hour mark, slipping in Jamie Walker but his drilled effort was turned around the post by Rohan Ferguson.
Eight minutes later Mackay-Steven sent an inviting cross in the direction of Boyce, who was patrolling the six-yard box, but Ferguson was quick off his line to beat him to the ball.
Against the run of play, the hosts took the lead through a controversial penalty. Isaiah Jones and Stephen Kingsley were involved in a footrace into the Hearts box and the Queens man appeared to dangle his leg in the path of the Jambos’ full-back, who subsequently made contact. Referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot and Obileye made no mistake from 12 yards.
The Jambos kept up the pressure in the second half. Boyce showed his usual excellent hold up play to find Walker but his shot from distance sailed over the bar.
Andy Irving’s 20-yard free kick curled around the wrong side of Ferguson’s right-hand post, then moments later a quick Queens breakaway saw Jones advance into the box but he fired wide of the target.
With a minute remaining, Hearts were awarded a penalty when Boyce was bundled over inside the box and the league’s top scorer dusted himself down to fire home the equaliser.
Another late rally couldn’t provide the winner and a draw meant Hearts stretch their lead at the top of the Championship to 13 points.
Queen of the South: Ferguson, Gibson, Maxwell, Obileye, Breen, Buchanan, Pybus (McGrory, 17’), East, Awokoya-Mebude, Nortey, Jones. Subs: Rae, McMahon, Joseph, McKechnie, Dobbie, Goss.
Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Walker, Boyce, Halliday, Mackay-Steven, Irving (Henderson, 65’), Kingsley, Halkett, Popescu, Kastaneer (McEneff, 57’). Subs: Stewart, Haring, Berra, Naismith, Frear..