John McGinn: Hearts’ spying mission on Hibs was a waste

John McGinn leaves Ross Docherty floored. Picture: SNS

John McGinn leaves Ross Docherty floored. Picture: SNS

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John McGinn has claimed Hearts No. 2 Austin MacPhee made a wasted journey as he dashed from Fir Park to Easter Road to perform one last spying mission ahead of Sunday’s Scottish Cup derby.

After watching his own side wrap up a memorable week with a 3-0 victory over Motherwell, head coach Ian Cathro’s right-hand man watched Hibs come from behind to earn a draw against struggling Ayr United.

McGinn, who knows MacPhee from their time together at St Mirren, wasn’t surprised to see his former coach at Easter Road only a couple of hours after Hearts’ match, knowing full well his meticulous approach to the game.

But, he insisted, MacPhee wouldn’t have learned much as Jason Cummings headed home his 15th goal of the season to cancel out Robbie Crawford’s shock fourth-minute opener against the Championship leaders.

The Scotland midfielder said: “Austin leaves no stone unturned. He was always working very hard at St Mirren. He worked a lot on the set pieces and analysing the other team. If there is a weakness, he’ll exploit it.

“I’m sure he’ll be busy this week watching this game to exploit our weaknesses. But did he get a true picture from it? Definitely not.”

McGinn admitted he and his team-mates had been left frustrated at having to settle for a draw against Ayr, who had gone into the weekend match having not won in their last 12 outings, a result which allowed Dundee United to trim Hibs’ lead at the top of the table to six points after their 3-0 win over Raith Rovers.

He said: “It wasn’t our greatest performance, but credit to Ayr, they came and scored a good goal. They made it difficult for us, it was tough to break them down. We didn’t get the break of the ball. Holty [Grant Holt] had a header cleared off the line that could have won us the game.

“It’s a point at the end of the day. We did everything we could to win the game, but it just wasn’t enough. I don’t think you can fault us for effort, maybe quality at times. To be fair to Ayr, they defended well and they had a couple of chances towards the end. All credit to them, they are fighting for their lives.”

Victories over Rangers and now Motherwell have made Hearts fans far more optimistic about Sunday than they were when the fifth-round draw was made, but while agreeing Cathro’s men appear to have turned the corner, McGinn insisted: “We are confident because we know we are a good side.

“We know we can come up against anyone and give them a game. It’s our cup just now and it’s up to us to retain it. We’ll be doing whatever we can to make sure that we do.”

Hibs’ development side face Rangers at East Mains tomorrow (kick-off 1pm).