Injustices often spur footballers on and that’s certainly the intention within the Hearts squad right now.
Robbie Neilson has allowed his players a few days off during the international break. Most of them will spend at least some of the time chewing over events at New Douglas Park on Saturday.
The plan is to return refuelled and refocused at Inverness a week on Friday. Willie Collum’s decision to red card Callum Paterson has been appealed by Tynecastle officials, who must now await a verdict from the Scottish Football Association. The anger at the wrongful dismissal and the fact it turned the game in Hamilton’s favour with Hearts leading 2-1 won’t disperse easily.
In fact, neither Neilson nor his players wish to forget. Feelings of being wronged provoke a reaction and, provided it is the right one, Hearts could find themselves hugely motivated when domestic football resumes. They know Paterson won the ball in his tackle on Darian MacKinnon but still received a straight red card. Their frustration wasn’t easy to bury with their 100 per cent record and their place at the top of the Ladbrokes Premiership gone.
It’s a fair bet that, come next Friday night in the Caledonian Stadium’s away dressing-room, the incident will be regurgitated. Midfielder Morgaro Gomis explained why it could actually benefit Hearts to have a two-week break to digest things.
“This will probably help us. Maybe the international break is coming at a good time,” he said, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “You obviously never want to lose any game but we lost that one. Now we can have a little break and come back stronger. That’s what we want to do.
“We just need to stick together. We will use this as an example: ‘Just think about the Hamilton game. We don’t want to have that feeling again’. In every game, we’re going to go out and do more than what we did on Saturday and win more points.
“We want to remember this. Hopefully it will be the last time we feel like this but it’s a long season and you have to wait and see what happens. We don’t want to have that feeling again of walking into the dressing-room feeling unhappy. We want to come in happy after winning games. You’re never happy losing games and we certainly weren’t happy on Saturday.
“I thought we did well and tried to control ourselves on the pitch. It’s never easy. I’m not going to say anything about the ref but it’s never easy when you’re playing with ten men. I don’t think we deserved to be down to ten. You just try your hardest to be calm and just carry on playing the game.”
Rising rapidly from relegation last year to top of the Premiership this year brings a heightened profile. Hearts are finding that out quickly. The reaction of Hamilton’s players at full-time on Saturday confirmed they had beaten a team they regarded as a bit of a scalp. Neilson and his players arrived in Lanarkshire with five wins out of five and destroying their 100 per cent record brought Accies great delight.
“I think you could tell what it meant to Hamilton,” admitted Gomis. “When the game was finished, the Hamilton players were all happy. You could see it was a big result for them. Obviously it was a bad result for us. Fingers crossed, we can get back after the international break and go into a big game against Inverness. We want to win that one and take things from there.”
Discontent at Collum will continue for quite some time no doubt. Yet, when analysing the bigger picture, five wins from the first six league fixtures remains a very impressive start for Hearts. They are the newly-promoted club in the Premiership but aren’t content to be merely also-rans. Having signalled their intent, they will attempt to build on those foundations into the autumn.
“So far, even though we lost at Hamilton, we’ve been doing very well,” Gomis acknowledged. “To win five games out of the first six in the league, I think we’d have taken that at the start of the season. Because we were winning 2-1, we thought we were going to win on Saturday. To lose any game is never easy but we’re especially unhappy to lose in that way.
“You can see we were unhappy at losing the game, especially the way we lost. I don’t think, if we had kept 11 men on the field, we were going to lose the match.
“The sending off changed the whole game. They scored a good goal to make it 2-2 and then we lost the third goal. I think the red card just changed the game completely.”
On a more personal level, Gomis explained he is feeling fitter now after a gentle start to the season. He admitted before competitive matches began that he hadn’t yet reached prime condition. His fitness has improved and he has played a key role in Hearts’ successful opening to the season. He still wants more, however.
“I feel good and I’m happy. I’m playing in the team just now, so that it good, but I hope there will be more to come from me. I’m okay for fitness, I’m pretty much there – 90 per cent anyway.”