How Hearts' new signings fared against Leeds United amid "Eng-er-lund" chants and EFL talent

English club too strong as Jambos now look to Perth
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Hearts supporters saw new signings Frankie Kent and Calem Nieuwenhof in maroon for the first time in Sunday’s friendly against Leeds United at Tynecastle Park. The English Championship club earned a 1-0 victory as their Scottish opponents now prepare for the cinch Premiership kick-off at St Johnstone this Saturday.

With further new recruits Kyosuke Tagawa and Kenneth Vargas due to arrive, fans’ eyes were on Kent and Nieuwenhof in the club’s fifth and final pre-season fixture.

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Kent, signed from Peterborough United on a three-year deal, carries plenty physical presence in central defence. Standing 6ft 2ins tall, he won a number of headers as Leeds put the Hearts back line under pressure without creating too many clear scoring opportunities. When Luke Ayling scored late in the first half, Kent slid in attempting to stop the ball crossing the line but to no avail.

He partnered the Australian Kye Rowles and managed an important last-gasp block on Crysencio Summerville’s shot in the second half. Overall, he looks a decent acquisition at first glance and should fill Craig Halkett’s role until the Scot is fully fit.

Nieuwenhof had quieter afternoon in central midfield. He looked tidy in possession, evident when he dispossessed Summerville in the first half and set off before being fouled. He moved into an attacking No.10 position midway through the second half and was then replaced by Connor Smith.

The Australian arrived in Scotland from Western Sydney Wanderers for a six-figure fee and, like Kent, signed a three-year contract. He will take time to settle in and adapt to the often-frenetic nature of British football. If he can get up on the play quicker and sharper, he will compete better in that central area. An obvious example to follow in that regard would be his compatriot, Cammy Devlin.

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Leeds suffered relegation from the English Premier League and are now preparing for life in the EFL Championship. Captained by the Scotland international centre-back Liam Cooper, they dictated the early tempo of this friendly in front of 2,528 travelling fans. Chants of “Eng-er-lund” emanated from the away stand throughout the afternoon.

Frankie Kent played in front of a Hearts crowd for the first time against Leeds United at Tynecastle. Pic: SNSFrankie Kent played in front of a Hearts crowd for the first time against Leeds United at Tynecastle. Pic: SNS
Frankie Kent played in front of a Hearts crowd for the first time against Leeds United at Tynecastle. Pic: SNS

Hearts goalkeeper Zander Clark saved Luis Sinisterra’s early drive and the hosts recovered to gain more of a foothold in proceedings as the first half progressed. They fell behind seven minutes before the interval, however. Summerville supplied Ayling, the Leeds right-back, in an advanced position for an accurate low finish which may have crossed the goal line before Kent slid in.

Either way, Leeds had a deserved interval lead and continued threatening after the break. Dan James saw an effort disallowed for offside before Hearts fashioned a good opportunity, Japanese winger Yutaro Oda stinging the palms of the visiting goalkeeper Illan Meslier.

Leeds substitute Willy Gnonto – who played at Tynecastle for FC Zurich last season – should have headed his side into a 2-0 lead, but the game ended with Ayling’s strike as the decisive moment.

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Hearts (4-2-3-1): Clark; Atkinson (Sibbick 71), Kent, Rowles, Kingsley; Nieuwenhof (Smith 74), Haring (Halliday 81); Oda (Cochrane 63), Forrest (Wilson 85), Grant (Devlin 63); Shankland.

Leeds Utd (4-2-3-1): Meslier; Ayling (Shackleton 67), Struijk, Cooper (Cresswell 78), Hjelde (Byram 57); Gray, Ampadu (Gerlhardt 78); Summerville (Poveda 57), Sinisterra (Gyabi 78), James (Gnonto 67); Rutter (Bamford 26 (Joseph 82)).

Referee: David Dickinson.

Attendance: 16,641.