Hearts and Inverness Caley Thistle gave former player Angus Beith the perfect send-off with a friendly draw on a night of emotion at Tynecastle.

Anthony McDonald, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Inverness, gave Hearts a first-half lead but it was cancelled out late on by Caley Thistle substitute Mitchell Curry as the on-field action took second billing in Beith’s benefit match.

The 23-year-old was forced to announce his retirement from playing in the spring because of a degenerative hip problem and, having spent last season with Inverness after 13 years with Hearts, it was fitting that players from both clubs formed a guard of honour for the youngster prior to kick-off.

Beith has already moved his focus to coaching, with Hearts’ Under-12s and is undergoing an Open University degree in Business Management. However, he enjoyed his brief moment back on the Tynecastle turf and Jambos manager Craig Levein is hopeful he can turn a negative into a positive the same way he did after injury forced him to hang up his boots.

“It’s sad day, as you can imagine, for someone of his age to have to retire,” Levein said.

“He made a lovely speech after the game and he’s looking forward to the next stage in his life now after playing football.

“Hopefully he can do as well on the coaching side of things and kick on there. He’s in our academy helping the coaching there and I’ve seen him coach; he’s good. He’s a very bright young guy and his coaching points are lucid and coherent, which is a starting point.

“He has a very positive outlook on things. It’s a shame, really, but I retired early through injury and got into coaching, so it can help spur you on and make you more successful. Hopefully the same thing will happen with Angus.”

Hearts clearly had one eye on Friday night’s Betfred Cup tie against Dundee United as Levein named a starting XI with only two or three regarded as regular first-choice picks.

Skipper Christophe Berra anchored the defence and Michael Smith, left out of the trip to Ireland because his wife is expecting a baby, was given badly needed game-time, but both were wrapped in cotton wool after 45 minutes.

However, Hearts did suffer a blow when Craig Wighton was forced off early with an injury.

“After these things it’s about getting through it with no injuries but, unfortunately, Craig Wighton got a bang on his knee,” said Levein. “I’m hoping it’s nothing too serious. It’s more of a knock than a twist or something like that, so I’m hopeful it’s not too bad at all. There’s a wee bit of fluid in it but that can happen with just a dunt on the kneecap, so we’ll see.”

Whilst open play was low-key, set-pieces afforded both teams the opportunity to prove their training-ground hard work has been put to good use, and Hearts certainly did that with the opening goal in the 20th minute.

Oliver Bozanic picked out Harry Cochrane at the edge of the box with a low free-kick and the midfielder’s chip was volleyed in expertly by McDonald.

With former Hearts keeper Mark Ridgers performing heroics for Caley Thistle, the visitors drew level with 14 minutes remaining. James Keatings fired in a corner that Nikolay Todorov forced goalwards and Curry knocked the ball over the line from close range.