Gary Mackay: Hearts need points from next two games

Celric's Anthony Stokes congratulates Jamie MacDonald on a fine performance from the keeper but, although Hearts battled, any points gained against Celtic would have been a bonus. Picture: SNS
Celric's Anthony Stokes congratulates Jamie MacDonald on a fine performance from the keeper but, although Hearts battled, any points gained against Celtic would have been a bonus. Picture: SNS
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Hearts may have lost two games on the spin, but we can’t lose faith because they were against the best two teams in the country.

You only have to look at the subs that both teams utilised on Saturday to see that we were always going to be up against it. Celtic were able to bring on Georgios Samaras, a Greek internationalist, Charlie Mulgrew, a Scotland internationalist, and Teemu Pukki, their expensive new Finnish internationalist, while we could only call on – no disrespect to them because they still have their whole careers ahead of them – three unproven youngsters in Dale Carrick, Gary Oliver and David Smith. We were always going to be up against it when you look at it in that context.

The last two games were bonus games if you like, because, as I wrote a few weeks ago, anything we took from them would have been totally unexpected.

The games against the likes of Inverness, Celtic and Aberdeen are not our most important this season. It is against the likes of Kilmarnock, St Mirren, Ross County and Partick where we need to make sure we pick up a decent amount of points.

So we are entering a really important period in our season, as two of our next three games are against County and St Mirren. This is the type of run where we really need to start stringing some results together again, like we did before the Inverness game. After our two recent games, in which we certainly didn’t disgrace ourselves, we dust ourselves down and refocus for Dingwall on Saturday. While the last two defeats were acceptable, if we are going to re-establish some positive momentum, we really need to be making sure we take at least a point on Saturday.

We really need to hang in there in the next few weeks and keep the teams immediately above us looking over their shoulders. The likes of St Mirren and Kilmarnock are really toiling to pick up points at the moment and that has been the major positive for Hearts over the past few weeks.

However, that won’t last forever, these teams will eventually pick up victories, so we need to make sure we get some more wins on the board soon, so that we are close enough to them when we play them to turn the games into six-pointers. After relying on other teams to do us favours in recent weeks, the onus is now back on us to start making things happen again.

Hopefully we’ll have Ryan Stevenson back in the next few weeks, which would certainly aid our cause, but there remains a lingering fear that we are going to lose key players. You only have to look at Saturday where Jamie Hamill, who has already been the victim of an injustice in the Inverness game, gets booked for the penalty incident on Saturday.

I don’t think I even need to comment on that decision because it was blatantly ridiculous. But nonetheless Jamie, who is a combative player anyway and likely to pick up his share of bookings, moves a step closer to a suspension later in the season. Scott Robinson then picked up a needless booking in the last few minutes of the game, which didn’t help either.

The prospect of perhaps losing Robinson and Hamill through suspension at the same time would be a worrying one, so we need to look at, where possible, keeping our card count to a minimum.

After two predictable defeats, we need to make sure we get back to the form that saw us take seven points from three games earlier in the season. A return like that from our next three matches would really haul us back into the mix.