Gary Mackay: No need to panic after Hearts’ loss at Saints

Hearts' Tony Watt fights for possession against St Johnstone's Paul Paton. Pic: SNS
Hearts' Tony Watt fights for possession against St Johnstone's Paul Paton. Pic: SNS
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It’s hard to be too critical of a Hearts side who were on the receiving end of a typical smash and grab against St Johnstone on Saturday.

We were clearly the better team at McDiarmid Park and, in overall play, did more than enough to win the game. Unfortunately, we were undone by a mixture of great goalkeeping and resolute defending from Saints as well as some slack finishing from ourselves.

As much as it would have been nice to have kept our winning streak going, a defeat like that is easier to take when you know the team have had a real go and tried to play on the front foot.

There have been plenty away games over the years when we’ve barely laid a glove on the opposition and generally looked underwhelming, but Saturday’s was the performance of a team high on confidence and who look like they’re in a good place at the moment.

I don’t want to make a big deal of the diving debate which has been going on over the last week, but it was pleasing that by the end of Saturday’s game, the focus was no longer on our players supposedly going down too easily.

If we continue to play the way we did in Perth, we’ll certainly win more than we lose. It is a sign of how well we’re doing that we could lose that game and remain in second place. That shows our rivals are finding it harder to win games than we are, which bodes well. We now need to make sure Saturday’s game was a one-off and start on another winning streak.

Ross County at home is a winnable match but we also have to bear in mind that they will be coming to Tynecastle buoyed by having taken a well-earned point from Ibrox on Saturday. They will be confident of pulling off a similar result against us, so we could do with an early goal to break down their resistance.

In that regard, we certainly have plenty options to mix things up a bit. The fact we had Alim Ozturk, Arnaud Djoum, Prince Buaben and Conor Sammon – four players who have been heavily relied upon in recent times – on the subs’ bench shows how well off we are personnel-wise at the moment. It’s important we make that count in the final standings.