Gary Mackay: Team spirit has made Hearts hard to beat

Celtic midfielder Stefan Johanssen is taken down by Scott Robinson
Celtic midfielder Stefan Johanssen is taken down by Scott Robinson
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Hearts may have lost on Saturday, but we can take great heart from the fact that we are now consistently competing in games.

Even though we were unbeaten in four league matches, which was a superb feat, we were always going to be massive underdogs against a side like Celtic.

We can hold our heads up high with the performance, though, on a day when Hearts once again showed that they are gradually developing as a team as the season goes on.

With the players now starting to find their feet after an ultra-tough learning curve, I think it’s become clear for all to see over the past month or two that we are now a far stronger proposition than we were earlier in the season.

A real spirit has developed among this group and that is evident in how they seem to be getting stronger as opposed to weaker despite being so far adrift at the bottom of the league. We’re about to head into March now and, to the credit of the players and the management, there is no evidence of anyone throwing in the towel.

The one disappointing aspect from Saturday was that we didn’t really trouble Fraser Forster too much but, as you can see from their remarkable defensive record, most other teams have also struggled to create clear chances against Celtic.

The players certainly shouldn’t be downbeat about losing to a team of such quality, especially when the second goal came as we were chasing an equaliser, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t head to Motherwell in a good frame of mind.

Motherwell were fairly easily beaten by Dundee United on Friday night and we’ve been going well so, if we can show the same resilience that we’ve shown a lot lately, then we’ve got to be fairly hopeful we can get back on track at Fir Park. We also did well there earlier in the season, when we led until fairly late on and matched them for most of the game.

Because we are so far adrift at the bottom, all we ask from the team is that they continue to compete until the end of the season and ensure things don’t peter out in the closing months. They’re certainly not letting us down at the moment in that regard.