Ciara Grant pinpoints where Hearts need to improve
Hearts playmaker Ciara Grant believes that her teammates need to become more “game smart” after their Edinburgh derby defeat.
Her side suffered a 2-1 defeat to Hibs on Saturday in front of a 5,365 crowd at Easter Road. The Jambos struggled to get going throughout and it wasn’t until Katie Lockwood’s late consolation that the side looked to provide the hosts a consistent threat. After the game, a frustrated Grant insists that her side must learn how to manage games better as her side suffered back-to-back defeats against Hibs for the first time in two seasons.
“We are working really hard in training and a lot of the girls are pushing themselves but it just needs to translate onto the pitch,” she told the Edinburgh Evening News. “At this level, it is all about game management too. They were clever today, there were a lot of off-the-ball clever things happening all over the pitch. We need to get a bit more game-smart.”
Hearts typically play their fixtures at the Oriam while Hibs hold games at Meadowbank. However, for the Edinburgh derby, both clubs make the effort to travel to the men’s stadium to hold the affair. For many players on both sides, it will have been the first time they have ever played in front of a crowd that size with both managers greatly strengthening their teams over the summer.
With the occasion being massively different to what the players are used to, Hearts manager Eva Olid believed that nerves had a part to play in their defeat. However, Grant disagrees with this assessment.
“I don’t think we were nervous, we were very much up for the game,” she explained. “We were disappointed after the game at Tynecastle where we lost and dominated most of the match. Even at half-time, we had a chat and we were like, we are not playing well but they still hadn’t had too many chances.
“To concede two goals like we did is just not good enough at this level. I don’t think we were nervous; we were up for the game but maybe when they came out of the blocks faster than us then maybe people did hide away. That’s the worst thing you can do on the pitch.”
The race for the fourth spot is far closer this season. Hearts ran away with the position and secured it by 10 points in the last campaign, cementing themselves as the ‘best of the rest’ in the division. However, this season the Jambos face a far tougher challenge if they are to repeat last year’s success.
Partick Thistle currently occupies the position and are fourth points clear of Grant’s side while Hibs sit in fifth, three points clear. With only three games left until the Christmas break, Hearts will be hoping to quickly get their season back on track with a win this Sunday against Hamilton.
“The way we are working this season is that there are three rounds of the league,” Grant added. “We had the same points this season compared to last season in the first round. In the first game of the second round, we drew with Glasgow City which is great for us. We came here for three points, but we didn’t get it so we are just going to have to reset.
“This season was about challenging the top three and maintaining our fourth place. It is great to see that there is more competition for fourth place now, even with Partick. It is just making the league stronger now, every game is a tense game. We have had slip-ups, Hibs have had slip-ups, and the top three have had slip-ups which just shows the growth of the game in the Scottish league too.”