Hearts defeat Falkirk in bounce game as Peter Haring makes long-awaited return
Hearts ran out 3-0 winners in a closed-door bounce game against Falkirk at the Oriam on Tuesday afternoon.
Robbie Neilson’s men followed up Friday’s 5-0 defeat of East Fife with another convincing result, though they were made to work for the victory in the second period.
Goals from Liam Boyce, Jamie Walker and a Craig Wighton penalty ensured the win, but the match was only put out of sight after former Hearts attackers Callumn Morrison and Conor Sammon each had opportunities to level things up.
There was also a first sighting of Peter Haring this pre-season as the Austrian makes his long-awaited comeback from injury. The midfielder was a late substitute as the match entered the closing stages.
Hearts started with the same XI who defeated East Fife at Tynecastle; a 4-2-3-1 with Liam Boyce flanked by summer signings Jordan Roberts and Elliott Frear and Jamie Walker offering support from deep. Falkirk, meanwhile, had three ex-Hearts players in their starting XI in the shape of Morrison, Morgaro Gomis and Aidan Keena. Sammon was a second-half substitute.
While they may have rode their luck at times later in the match, Hearts were dominant in the opening period and could have had the ball in the back in the net well before Boyce broke the deadlock in the 44th minute.
Falkirk keeper Robbie Mutch made an excellent save to deny Roberts before seeing an Olly Lee header from a corner directed right at him.
Frear almost set up Roberts at the end of a jinking run. The ex-Motherwell winger beat two defenders before hanging up a cross to the back post that Roberts knocked just wide.
Walker then went close before they finally found the breakthrough. Running on to a through ball from Ben Garuccio, Roberts initially seemed to give up on the play before chasing it down and crossing from the byline. Boyce got there before the covering defender to slide home.
Hearts made two changes at the break, replacing their goalscorer and Craig Gordon for Wighton and deputy keeper Ross Stewart, but it was the visitors who looked rejuvenated in the second half.
Morrison had the ball in the back of the net only for the goal to be chopped off. Sammon then charged with the ball from deep to the edge of the Hearts penalty area before firing a shot off the post.
Co-managers Lee Miller and David McCracken would see their side pay for those missed opportunities in the 70th minute. After Steven Naismith and Josh Ginnelly replaced Frear and Roberts, the latter substitute tore down the right before crossing for Walker to fire beyond Mutch.
Once again the away side were left cursing their luck after substitute Robbie Leitch followed Sammon by striking the post. Wighton then made sure of things from the penalty spot. The attacker was granted the opportunity after defender Craig Halkett was kicked in the head trying to attack a Ginnelly corner.
Before that there was the welcome sight of Haring running out on the pitch for the final 15 minutes. The fans’ favourite hasn’t played a competitive game since the 2019 Scottish Cup final.