Hearts striker: We can breach Blue Brazil’s wall of men

James Keatings

James Keatings

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James Keatings admits Hearts need to show they have the nous to break down Cowdenbeath today after being left frustrated by Dumbarton last weekend.

The forward felt the league leaders were too slow in some of their build-up play in the goalless draw at the Bet Butler Stadium and believes they could have adopted a more direct approach at times.

However, Keatings is hopeful that a week of working rigorously on the training ground at ways of breaking down a packed defence will pay off with a return to winning ways against bottom-of-the-table Cowden at Tynecastle.

“Hopefully we can move the ball a lot quicker and create more chances than we did last week,” he said. “Cowdenbeath are a similar side to Dumbarton. They keep it tight at the back and really cram things and try and hit you on the break. We’re going to get a lot of games like that this season and it’ll be up to us to work out how we’re going to get the goals.

“There were parts of the game last weekend when we could have gone forward a lot quicker, whether it was a channel ball or a ball over the top. We did it early in the game and Osman [Sow] got through one-on-one with their keeper, so I thought we would have done it more often after that but it didn’t happen.

“We overplayed at times, but that’s the way we’re looking to play. We want to pass and move, but we need to do it quicker than we did last week. We need to see how a game is going and be ready to change our play when things are not going for us.

“Last weekend, it was pretty much ten men behind the ball, with them playing on the counter. We hadn’t really had a game like that before because in most of the other games it had been us going at them and them coming at us, so there were spaces opening up on the pitch.

“It’s a learning curve for us as players in how to deal with games like that, but we’ve been working on that side of things in training this week because we need to give ourselves more options. Hopefully, after what we’ve done on the training field, we’ll be ready if we come up against that type of approach again.”

Keatings is used to coming up with the Championship’s smaller clubs from his time as a Hamilton Accies player and insists that the part-time clubs are perfectly capable of holding their own against clubs of Hearts’ stature. “Last season Hamilton went to Dumbarton when we were going for the title and we were expected to win, but we got beat 4-1,” he continued. “It was a difficult day and I told the boys that before the game last week. There’s games we’ll go into expected to win 3-0 or 4-0, but they won’t always work like that.

“When you’re playing against part-time teams you don’t think about it in a game. The games feel the same and they seem to have the same levels of fitness.

“They clearly work hard on the training ground as you don’t notice that they’re part-time clubs when you’re playing them.”