Hearts’ winter training camp in Spain began with a welcome draw against Dutch top-tier club Vitesse Arnhem as new loan signing Demetri Mitchell looked on.
Manager Craig Levein gave most of his squad valuable game time and welcomed Mitchell – who arrived from Manchester just before kick-off – to the club’s base near Valencia.
On a firm pitch bathed in sunshine at the Oliva Nova resort, a strong Vitesse side took control early on.
Striker Bryan Linssen’s thundering header from Milot Rashica’s cross hit the net via the underside of Jack Hamilton’s crossbar on 15 minutes.
That opened the scoring before a fine save by Hamilton prevented Mason Mount doubling Vitesse’s lead. Mount had another opportunity but attempted to flick a low cross from close range and could only watch his effort trickle wide.
Kyle Lafferty’s effort into Remko Pasveer’s hands on 24 minutes was Hearts’ first effort at goal. Then, ten minutes before the break, Dario Zanatta’s low cross found Cole Stockton. His first-time left-footed effort was goalbound before being cleared near the line.
Hearts made multiple changes at half-time and gave a better account of themselves in the second 45 minutes.
Teenager Euan Henderson’s energy and touch were an asset in attacking areas. However, John Souttar had to throw his body in front of Mount’s shot to stop a certain second goal for the Dutch after Hearts were opened up by a fine passing move.
Another glorious chance saw Linssen through on Hamilton, but the forward shot wide when it looked easier to score.
Hearts punished the Vitesse profligacy six minutes from time. A foul on 15-year-old Connor Smith 22 yards out led to substitute Andy Irving sending a free-kick round the wall and into the corner of the net.
Hearts (first half 4-4-2): J Hamilton; Randall, Hughes, Berra, Godinho; Cowie, Petkov, Martin, Zanatta; Stockton, Lafferty.
Hearts (second half 4-2-3-1): J Hamilton; Randall (C Hamilton 60), Soutar, Hughes (Baur 60), Brandon; Cowie (Paton 60), Cochrane (C Smith); Henderson (Keena), Irving, Milinkovic; Goncalves.
Vitesse (first half 4-3-3): Pasveer; Dabo, Kashia, Kruiswijk, Faye; Bruns, Serero, Mount; Rashica, Castaignos, Linssen.
Vitesse (second half 4-3-3): Pasveer; Lelieveld, Miazga, Kotte, Faye; Bruns, Serero (Van Bergen 67), Mount; Rashica (Schuurman 67), Castaignos, Linssen (Ten Teije 77).