Gary Mackay: Hearts should get right in Celtic's faces again

The loss of a late equaliser on Saturday was tough to take, but it doesn't alter the fact Hearts remain in a good vein of form.

Monday, 29th January 2018, 5:30 am
Ross Callachan was denied a penalty on Saturday but Hearts must bounce back from that and the loss of a late goal against Motherwell when they travel to face Celtic on Tuesday

We created enough chances to win the game and there were some big decisions that went against us but Motherwell showed good resilience to hang in there and nick a point. Their goal will have been particularly galling for a Hearts goalkeeper and a group of defenders who have developed such a desire to keep clean sheets. Overall, though, we’ve got to be pretty happy with our results since the winter break. Most supporters would have settled for knocking Hibs out of the Scottish Cup and then taking four points from our next two league games, albeit we’d have probably anticipated drawing on the plastic pitch at Hamilton and beating Motherwell at home, rather than doing it the other way around.

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Because of the number of older players and younger players, we’ve had to mix and match a bit to make sure everyone got through the past week, so to pick up two wins and a draw from such a run of games is a good return. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t hold on to make it three wins out of three.

Despite the late setback on Saturday, we can go to Celtic Park tomorrow in upbeat mood. We were outstanding the last time we faced Celtic at Tynecastle. Although our impressive form recently has been based on solid defence, we should also remember how difficult we made it for Celtic by getting in their faces and getting at them. It’s a harder task to do that effectively at Celtic Park than it is at home, but I think it’s a tactic we should consider again, depending on the personnel available to us. I have sympathy for both Leigh Griffiths and Craig Gordon after they picked up injuries at the weekend, but from a football perspective there is no doubt that the absence of those two weakens them. Unlike in other recent trips to Celtic, I think we can go through there quietly confident about coming away with a result.

The squad is in pretty good shape just now. We seem to have recruited well and have been able to move on a few fringe men who haven’t been contributing. If the window closes with no further activity, I’ll be reasonably content.