Gary Mackay: Hopefully that’s Hearts back on track

Hearts put in a fine defensive display at Celtic Park. Pic: SNS
Hearts put in a fine defensive display at Celtic Park. Pic: SNS
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Considering the sense of gloom around the club a week ago, the past two games have gone as well as any Hearts supporter could have hoped for.

The players have really responded strongly to the questions asked of them after the run of three successive defeats.

We’ve consolidated our place in the upper echelons of the league and progressed in the League Cup over the past five days, so hopefully that is us right back on track.

Although we weren’t at our best last Wednesday, the cup game at Kilmarnock reminded me of last season in terms of the spirit they showed to come back from the dead in the last few minutes.

Then, given how the season’s gone so far, I don’t think anyone envisaged that Hearts would follow that game up by keeping their first away clean sheet of the season at Celtic Park.

You need a bit of luck allied to resilience to come away with a 0-0 draw at a place like that. The team selection was widely questioned after the defeat to Aberdeen, and there was always the danger that leaving the captain, Alim Ozturk, out on Saturday might have become an issue if Hearts had been badly beaten by Celtic, but ultimately it was a decision that paid off and the management team deserve full credit for that.

The only thing that would have made it even better is if Sam Nicholson had run on and scored instead of being hauled down by Efe Ambrose on Saturday, but I think every Hearts supporter will be quite satisfied with the last couple of results. Hopefully that’s us now turned the corner but we will only find out for sure when we host Kilmarnock on Saturday.

That will be a different kettle of fish entirely to the one against Celtic as the emphasis shifts from defence to attack. There will be an expectation on the team, and generally they have dealt well with those type of games at Tynecastle so far this season. The fixtures over the next month look slightly more favourable on paper than those we’ve had in September but we just have to keep taking it one game at a time.

Arnaud Djoum will come into the mix, and given that he is only signed until January, hopefully he will hit the ground running and prove to be another good addition to the central midfield.