The big-spending Chinese Super League club battled it out to a 2-2 draw with Daniel McBreen's Edgeworth Eagles in a friendly on Wednesday night as part of their three-week pre-season training camp in the Hunter.
Veteran ex-Central Coast Mariners and China-based striker McBreen scored the second half equaliser for the part-timers from Newcastle.
Midfielder James Holland, who left Hyundai A-League side Adelaide United for Liaoning last month, was a second half substitute for the visitors.
Keigo Moriyasu opened the scoring for the hosts midway through the first half before Kruse equalised seven minutes later.
The Socceroos winger started and finished the move with a neat finish past keeper Nate Cavaliere.
Defender Lang Zheng put Liaoning in front with a header before the break but they couldn’t hold on, with McBreen scoring a spectacular equaliser 20 minutes from time.
The CSL side will play further matches against the NYL sides of Sydney FC (Feb 19) and Newcastle Jets (Feb) 22 before their domestic season starts next month.
“Pre-season is pre-season and it’s all about getting ready and fit for the first game of the season,” Kruse told the Newcastle Herald.
“We’ve been training hard with a lot of double sessions and the weather has been quite hot too. It takes its toll, but we feel good and I think we’ll be OK for the first game of the competition.”
It was the second game Liaoning had played against NNSW NPL opposition, having lost 2-1 to Broadmeadow Magic on Monday night.
Still on the NPL and in Queensland, head coach Ian Ferguson has quit as coach of the Northern Fury less than a fortnight out from the start of their season.
Ferguson’s resignation ends a long association with the club, which started back in 2008 when he was their inaugural Hyundai A-League coach.
After leaving his post in 2010, he returned to the club three years later as director of football and coaching.Paul Roncato has taken over as head coach, with Fury opening their campaign against Moreton Bay United on Saturday, February 25.