Gary Mackay: Hearts can dispel Livingston draw by beating Motherwell
Natural disappointment from Saturday could disperse tonight if we reach the Betfred Cup semi-finals. That is no easy task against a strong Motherwell team, but there are still plenty positives surrounding Hearts' start to the season.
Drawing 0-0 with Livingston in the league at the weekend was frustrating, especially in the sense that we seemed to lack a creative spark in the final third. However, if we’d gone back to the start of August and been told we would be sitting with 16 points out of 18 going into a home game against St Johnstone – and holding a five-point lead at the top of the Premiership – we would have bitten your fingers off for that scenario.
We have a big cup game tonight and hopefully there will be something ignited if we can get a stage further in the League Cup. That can then, hopefully, transmit itself to our performance on Saturday.
Reflecting on the Livingston game, sometimes you have to give the opposition a bit of credit. I think everybody who was inside the stadium saw that they were well-drilled, had a good spirit about them and got in our faces. It was probably similar to the way Hearts have got in Celtic’s faces with some success in the last few years.
That made it difficult for us. We didn’t create a lot of clear-cut chances and we didn’t have that wee spark about it us that we have had previously this season. That was the case probably until young Callumn Morrison came on. He made a difference and certainly caught my eye, not for the first time.
Supporters would have come away from the game thinking: ‘Damn, we’ve dropped a couple of points there.’ However, as it panned out, we ended up gaining a point on the defending champions. We still have a five-point gap over everyone else in the league, which is a nice cushion too have.
Uche Ikpeazu might be back tonight. I think as a target we did miss him against Livingston, but if you look at the team overall I just didn’t feel there was a real creative spark. Ikpeazu would’ve given us a target and we didn’t have that, which made it a wee bit easier for Livingston to defend in a physical sense against Craig Wighton and Steven MacLean.
Livingston were very strong and physical, whereas maybe Ikpeazu could have put them in their place a wee bit. For me, the biggest failing on the day was that we didn’t get a lot of width in the team until Morrison came on. We didn’t create as much from the middle of the field as I would have liked to see. If that is remedied this evening then we will cause Motherwell plenty problems.