Glenavon 2-1 Hearts: Three new faces for Jambos but Irish tour ends with defeat
Conor Washington, Craig Halkett and Aidy White all debuted for Hearts as the club completed their Irish tour with a defeat against Glenavon.
Forward Stephen Murray and trialist Matthew Ferguson scored in each half to earn the Lurgan side a deserved win despite Sean Clare's late consolation at Mourneview Park.
There were actually four new arrivals in Hearts' starting line-up but Jamie Walker had to withdraw before kick-off due to a tight quad muscle. He had been listed as a trialist since international clearance for his transfer from Wigan Athletic has not yet been processed by the English FA.
This friendly was arranged as part of Bobby Burns' transfer from Glenavon to Hearts last summer. It was the second of a two-match trip for Craig levein's team following Monday's 7-0 victory against Shelbourne in Dublin.
With owner Ann Budge watching from the stand, the visitors were made to feel welcome by The Hearts Song blaring through Glenavon's PA system before kick-off. There was no hospitality on the field, however, as the hosts pressed and tackled their opponents with energy and aggression.
A last-gasp sliding tackle from Halkett halted Murray in the act of shooting on 19 minutes. That underlined the positive start from those in blue. Indeed, Halkett won several aerial duels during the first half.
When Hearts did threaten, it was mostly down the left through Jake Mulraney or Washington. The Northern Ireland internationalist cut in from that side on 33 minutes and drove a low shot into the side netting.
After Zdenek Zlamal held Eoin Wearon's low free-kick, Glenavon opened the scoring. Harry Cochrane was dispossessed in midfield and Murray collected the loose ball. He sped off towards goal before slipping a composed low finish beyond Zlamal.
White showed good intent to get forward from left-back in his first outing after 30 months out injured. It was no surprise he was replaced by Burns during the break. Another substitute, Dario Zanatta, had a shot blocked moments into the second period as Hearts tried to increase the tempo of their play.
Glenavon introduced Burns' younger brother, Paddy, on the hour to cheers from family clearly delighted seeing both siblings on the pitch together. Ferguson extended the lead soon after. He rose to meet a corner and headed high past Zlamal. Ferguson had an opportunity to score again after taking the ball off deputy right-back Ryan Edwards, however Zlamal held the striker's tame effort at goal.
Burns almost got Hearts on the scoresheet with 17 minutes left. Uche Ikpeazu did well to hold off an opponent and cut the ball back, the teenager arrived for a right-footed shot which Glenavon's replacement goalkeeper James Taylor beat away to safety. Ikpeazu then teed up Connor Smith, but his shot from an acute angle on the left rolled just past the far post.
The closing stages remained open and Hearts finally found a breakthrough on 87 minutes. Edwards' cross was struck first-time by Clare, whose effort trundled into the corner of the net with Taylor static. That finished the scoring as Hearts departed Lurgan quickly for their flight back to Edinburgh.
Glenavon first half (4-4-2): Tuffey; Harmon, Marron, Sharkey, Singleton; Rees, Garrett, Wearon, Daniels; Murray, Jenkins.
Glenavon second half (4-4-2): Taylor; Norton, Larmour, Doyle, Singleton (Burns 60); Hall, McLoskey, Clingan, Byrne; Mitchell (Barr 82), Ferguson (Hunter 82).
Hearts (4-4-2): Zlamal; Moore (Zanatta 46), Souttar, Halkett Petkov 75), White (Burns 46); Edwards, Cochrane (Clare 46), Bozanic (Irving 46), Mulraney (McDonald 86); Washington (C Smith 62), Wighton (Ikpeazu 46). Unused subs: Doyle, Dikamona.
Referee: Keith Kennedy.