James Keatings was on target as a younger-than-usual Hearts Under-20s produced an impressive performance in a 1-1 draw away to Ross County in the SPFL Development League.
With options reduced by a international call-ups and injuries, coach Jack Ross fielded a side which contained only Kevin McHattie and James Keatings as recognised senior players.
Hearts started strongly, with McHattie’s cross-cum-shot clawed away for a corner by County goalkeeper Antonio Reguero. The visitors took the lead in the fifth minute when Keatings scored with an angled shot from the edge of the box, which went in off the far post.
Hearts were well on top and should have gone further ahead. Keatings hit the post on 35 minutes after rounding Reguero, and Ali Roy had a shot blocked on the line. Hearts were made to pay for the missed chances when Boyce equalised with an angled shot on 43 minutes.
The second half was more evenly-balanced as County gained a foothold. Hearts’ Nathan Flanagan had a shot brilliantly saved by Reguero early in the second half but there were near misses at both ends, with both goalkeepers pulling off some fine stops.
On 68 minutes, Hearts’ Ian Smith steered a Liam Henderson cross against a post.
In a strong Hearts finish, McHattie blazed a shot just past, and Smith had a low shot saved by Reguero as the Hearts youngsters left Inverness with only one point to show for one of their best performances of the season.
Hearts: Hamilton, Buchanan, Gordon, Page, McHattie, Flanagan (I Smith 56), McKirdy, Scott, Henderson, Roy (Moore 77), Keatings. Unused subs: Brown, Gullan, Morgan, Stevenson.