Hearts 0, Lokeren 1: Jambos lose out to Belgians in Spain
Hearts' first outing of 2019 ended in defeat against Belgian club Lokeren at the picturesque Campoamor Golf Resort in southeastern Spain.
Dorde Jovanovic, the 19-year-old Serbian striker, scored the game's only goal early in the first half and caused constant menace to the Tynecastle defence.
The match was the only friendly during Hearts' five-day training camp and was a competitive affair.
New arrivals David Vanecek and Conor Shaughnessy both started against a Lokeren side sitting bottom of Belgium's top flight. Jovanovic had a close-range header disallowed for offside early on before Sean Clare stung the palms of goalkeeper Ortwin De Wolf with a driving run and shot.
Jovanovic converted his second chance on 13 minutes and this time there was no flag thwarting him. A through pass from Mujangi Bia opened the Hearts defence for the striker to angle a precise finish across keeper Colin Doyle and into the far corner of the net.
Vanecek headed over the Lokeren crossbar from Olly Lee's cross moments later. The Czech looked purposeful and keen to impress in his first outing for his new club. He dribbled past two opponents and fell looking for a penalty but to no avail.
Hearts continued pressing for an equaliser and, although Steven Naismith's headed flick landed in the net, it was disallowed for a foul by Clevid Dikamona during the build-up. They were denied a penalty for an apparent foul on Lee before Jovanovic wasted a chance to score again by shooting wide when through on goal.
Hearts changed to a back four and made four changes for the second half. Lokeren remained 4-3-3 knowing they troubled their Scottish guests plenty in the first period.
In front just under 100 Hearts fans, Craig Levein's side fared better after the break without creating many clear opportunities. Lokeren were restricted to shots from distance and twice tested substitute keeper Zdenek Zlamal.
On 74 minutes, another two subs combined as Harry Cochrane's cross found Steven MacLean. His instinctive effort at goal was held by De Wolf.
Lokeren looked certain to leave with a 2-0 win when Jovanovic's downward header found Jose Cevallos 12 yards from the Hearts goal. However, Dikamona threw himself in front of the shot for a goal-saving block.
Hearts (3-4-2-1): Doyle (Zlamal 46); Dikamona, Shaughnessy, Berra (Cochrane 46); Godinho (Brandon 76), Lee (Mulraney 46), Djoum (Burns 76), Garuccio (Mitchell 46); Clare (MacLean 60), Naismith (Bozanic 60); Vanecek (McDonald 60).
Lokeren (4-3-3): De Wolf; Diaby, Filipovic, Deschacht, Straetman; Lukas, Overmeire, Bia; Miric, Jovanovic, De Ridder.