Queen of the South 0 - 0 Hearts: Testing workout for Hearts

Jordan McGhee's acrobatics failed to force a Hearts win. Picture: Robert Perry

Jordan McGhee's acrobatics failed to force a Hearts win. Picture: Robert Perry

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The scoreline might have been blank but it was Queen of the South, newly promoted to the First Division, who took most of the plaudits as they gave Hearts the sort of testing workout which their young squad is likely to have to become accustomed to in the season ahead.

The game marked the first appearance of the artificial playing surface at Palmerston and both sets of players found that easier to adapt to than the sweltering conditions.

Queens were particularly impressive in the opening 45 minutes and were unfortunate not to find themselves comfortably ahead by the interval. A combination of the crossbar and some fine saves by Mark Ridgers in the Hearts goal prevented them from making a breakthrough which their clever approach play, with Danny Carmichael to the fore, undoubtedly merited.

Early on the winger almost caught Ridgers out with a low 30-yard effort which unexpectedly dipped and the keeper did well to recover and push the ball round the post for a corner. Carmichael was then again denied after Derek Lyle’s powerful shot had been parried by the busy Ridgers.

As half-time approached, the Doonhamers turned the screw with captain Chris Higgins seeing a spectacular overhead kick just clear the crossbar and then, a short while later, he was the latest to bring out the best in Ridgers as his header from a Chris Mitchell corner was tipped over. As the resultant set piece flew into the Hearts box Higgins again made a good connection only to see his header crash off the bar.

Hearts could muster only sporadic breaks in the opening 45 minutes with their best effort coming from the lively Jamie Walker, who sent a stinging drive just wide of the target.

Manager Gary Locke, looking to give as many of his squad for the day a run out, introduced three substitutes after the interval but the hosts remained in the ascendency with Mitchell once again delivering a fine cross which Lyle probably should have turned into the net rather than sidefoot into the arms of Ridgers.

Chances were scarce in comparison with the first half as the plethora of replacements disrupted the rhythm of the game, although an effort from Danny Orsi saw Ridgers called into action once more. In the closing stages substitute Gavin Reilly burst clear but the youngster blazed his attempt over the bar.

Afterwards Locke professed himself satisfied with the way his side had stood up to the pressure.

“It was a tough one. Queens played very well in the first half and they had us chasing it for long spells. But credit to the lads the way they threw themselves in front of things and stopped the ball going into the net. That’s the type of commitment we’re going to need over the course of this season.”

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